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RENFREW, Ont. – Ontario Works staff in the County of Renfrew, members of Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 4989, held a meeting last night and voted to stand up for the services they deliver in the community. CUPE 4989 is calling on the County of Renfrew to return to the bargaining table to negotiate a settlement to the current round of bargaining talks. Talks broke off on Monday when the parties were unable to reach an agreement.
Ontario Works delivers social assistance to approximately 1,110 clients monthly in the County of Renfrew. CUPE 4989 members provide services to those who are most vulnerable and being able to help them in a safe and healthy environment is a priority. Those they support are part of the community they live in and clients rely on them every day.
“Many of the most vulnerable people in our community depend on our supports to assist with basic needs such as food and shelter. Healthy workers are key to ensuring consistent delivery of quality supports for individuals and their families. The issue here is about keeping people healthy. The employer’s proposals would diminish our members’ ability to get back on their feet when they get sick and undermine our ability to make a difference in people’s lives. Ensuring that our members have the supports necessary to stay healthy and provide quality people-oriented services is a key priority for us,” said CUPE 4989 President Ghyslaine Turgeon.
“Our main concern is that both the province and the municipality have not made the services and supports Ontario Works staff provide a priority,” added Amy Parker, CUPE National Representative. “This is disheartening – hundreds of people in the community rely on the services CUPE 4989 members provide to stay out of poverty and the supports often fall short of what people need. Our members want to avoid a disruption to services. We are calling on the employer to come back to the table and work with us to make the services we provide a priority for the County of Renfrew,” Parker continued.
“CUPE 4989 members are committed to providing services to the people who rely on their supports. But chronic underfunding of the services, and the staff that deliver those services, presents challenges and puts services at risk. We are calling on the employer to return to the bargaining table to discuss how we can work together to maintain service delivery and advocate to secure the funding needed to ensure consistent quality supports for the people and families we serve,” concluded Parker.
CUPE 4989 has been in a legal lockout/strike position since 12:01 am on April 29th.
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Amy Parker, CUPE National Representative: (613) 735-3500
Marjorie Savoie, CUPE Communications: (613) 864-9924