Scarborough community development workers rallied outside Liberal MPP Brad Duguid’s constituency office last Friday where they protested a plan to close the community’s only employment and training service office.
OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas said the closure, announced in March 2015, makes no sense – it is the busiest ministry office in Ontario. “It means taking community programs and community development workers out of the community,” Thomas said.
“Most of the ministry’s Scarborough employees live and work in Scarborough,” he noted. “They know the community and its needs because they are neighbors of those who use the services. The office is downstairs from the social services office, which also supports many of their clients. This helps clients get better service.”
“The Wynne Liberals continue to listen to their friends on Bay Street rather than public service providers and community members who depend on the services we provide," said Myles Magner, OPSEU Region 5 Vice-President. “Reducing access to critical employment and training services in a hard-hit community like Scarborough shows what Kathleen Wynne's austerity agenda is all about — putting profits before people.”
As members of Local 585 marched outside Duguid’s office, they were joined by several community members, other workers and allies. Representatives from various agencies who work with the Scarborough MTCU office also came out in support. They spoke about how difficult it would be to coordinate services for Scarborough residents from locations elsewhere in the city.
Local 585 has been firm from the start: closing the office will see the needs of community members fall through the cracks. It will force those who rely on their education and training programs to travel long distances to receive service.
“Easy access to programs encourages participation,” said Ian Shaw, a steward from OPSEU Local 585. “Without access, many clients will lose hope of getting the training and support they need to go back to work. They need a human connection to help them through a difficult transition.”
“Every MPP in the province has an office in the community they represent,” said Shaw. “It makes sense to be located as close as possible to the constituents they serve. We’re no different. Our office must stay in Scarborough.”
Members of Local 585 have vowed to keep up the pressure on Duguid and all other Liberal MPPs in Scarborough to stop the closure.
For further information:
Ian Shaw, Scarborough Community Development Officer, OPSEU Steward Local 585