Community living workers across Ontario celebrate their work as 2009 contract negotiations begin

    TORONTO, Jan. 21 /CNW Telbec/ - Thousands of CUPE members working for
community living agencies (ACLs) are celebrating Developmental Service Workers
Appreciation Day today as their local unions begin contract negotiations.
    "When it comes to community living, our members truly do make it
possible," said CUPE Ontario President Sid Ryan. "They are on the frontline,
providing the services and supports that assist persons with a developmentally
disability - and their families - to participate fully in our communities.
    "ACL workers help to make our communities inclusive."
    Yet workers continue to face many challenges themselves, said Jim
Beattie, chair of the CUPE Ontario ACL Bargaining Committee. Legislation
passed by the Ontario legislature last year puts a new emphasis on direct
funding to families that threatens to undermine the existing community agency
infrastructure while doing little to reduce waiting lists where hundreds of
individuals and families are consigned until supports become available.
    While the Ontario government committed four years of increased funding to
help address low wages in the sector, recruitment and retention of staff
continue to be problems.
    "Our message to the province is simple," Beattie said. "Continue
investment aimed at strengthening supports and services rather than shifting
the burden of being an employer onto families who are, in many cases, already
overwhelmed with the care of their children with disabilities. A system of
community-based, not-for-profit agencies with workers who are fairly paid
brings real support and stability for people with disabilities.
    "Fifty CUPE bargaining units are beginning negotiations with an
expectation that we will be able to work with our employers to build on the
progress we have made toward addressing the serious issues facing the sector
and making our services stronger."

For further information:

For further information: Jim Beattie, Chair, CUPE Ontario ACL Bargaining
Committee, (905) 928-0030; Kathy Johnson, CUPE Social Service Coordinator,
(416) 272-6698; Pat Daley, CUPE Communications, (416) 616-6142

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