Closure of St. Thomas office for disability benefits is "an extreme hardship" for 2,200 clients

ST. THOMAS, ON, May 24, 2012 /CNW/ - The McGuinty government's decision to close the St. Thomas office of the Ontario Disability Support Program will force 2,200 people with disabilities to go to London to receive help, says the Ontario Public Service Employees Union.

"It's called the Ontario Disability Support Program for a reason," said OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas. "You don't provide support to people, many with mobility challenges, by forcing them to travel to see you."

It is a 30 to 45 minute commute by car to London from St. Thomas, depending on the time of day. There are only four buses a day.

The government says the closure of the St. Thomas office will save the government $140,000 a year in leasing costs.

The closure will cause extreme hardship for many ODSP clients who are on limited income and don't have easy access to transportation, according to the union.

"This is a cut in services, pure and simple," says Thomas. "Many disabled clients will have trouble getting to London, meaning they won't get the face-to-face advice and counselling they need to help them achieve their potential."

The closure will impact 11 staff and one manager, all of whom will move to London.

OPSEU represents 1,800 ODSP staff province-wide, including the staff in St. Thomas.

SOURCE Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU)

For further information:

Dave Kerr, past president, OPSEU Local 115
Cell: (519) 318-3861

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