Toronto – Social service workers from across Ontario will be taking one key message to Queen's Park today: stop treating social services like the poor cousin of health and education.
"It's a fact that social inequality dramatically impacts health and education outcomes," said Deb Gordon, chair of the OPSEU Community Services Divisional Council (CSDC). "Yet, as obvious as this is, social services continue to be vastly underfunded by the province. And underfunding this sector means increased costs in the other sectors."
OPSEU members will be delivering an action plan to MPPs at Queen's Park outlining the steps that must be taken in order to achieve a "bolder future" for social services. "Like health care and education, social services are vitally important to the well-being of all Ontarians," said Gordon. "We are encouraging the province to recognize that."
As part of today's lobby, OPSEU members will be screening OPSEU's short film, Telling Our Stories: Reimagining the Safety Net. The film captures stories of workers on the ground in social services, and highlights the challenges faced when an austerity agenda wreaks havoc on the sector.
"A sturdy social safety net is more critical today than ever before," said OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas. He pointed out that, currently, Ontario is experiencing some of the highest rates of childhood poverty, a persistent housing crisis, inaccessible childcare fees, and a growing trend of newly-created jobs being precarious and poorly paid.
"Let's truly create a province where no one is left behind, where everybody has somewhere to turn for help when they need it most," Thomas said.
OPSEU represents 20,000 workers in social services across Ontario. Members work in children's treatment, children's aid societies, developmental services, community agencies, and broader public service corrections.
For further information: Warren (Smokey) Thomas, 613-329-1931