Workers in developmental service continue to be on the frontline providing direct support to adults living with intellectual and physical disabilities.

This year, CUPE joins unions across Canada in acknowledging Developmental Service Worker Appreciation Week from June 19-25, 2022. During this week, CUPE will share educational shareables and infographics, member stories and videos, and an action bulletin to promote the important work of this vital sector. 

The recent announcements of closures of day programs by agencies, chronic staffing recruitment and retention issues, and the precarious nature of work in the sector show us that more needs to be done to address the serious issues impacting workers in developmental services and the people they support. 

Together, we must recognize the important contributions and impacts workers in developmental services have in their communities and on the people and families they support. For Ontario to move forward with profound service transformation, we must address the systemic, pervasive issues impacting the developmental services workforce. 

CUPE continues its calls on the Ontario government for the following: 

  • Improve funding to the sector—this funding should be dedicated to stabilizing the workforce employed by MCCSS funded not for profit agencies, including providing an immediate wage improvement for all workers and pay equity adjustments; minimize long waitlists for residential supports; and enhancing base operations funding to agencies who’ve had to grapple with underfunding through staffing, service, and program cuts.
  • Enhance and protect day programs—congregated day programs provide meaningful support to people living with developmental disabilities and their families by providing crucial space for educational and vocational skill building, offering program participants an opportunity to develop a strong social circle not inherently or easily afforded in their respective communities, and important respite for families who provide around-the-clock support to their loved ones. Day programs must be adequately funded to be effective, accessible, and publicly delivered. CUPE holds that congregated day program supports must be coupled with viable options for participants to engage with their communities through individualized, wrap-around supports.
  • Legislate WSIB coverage for all workers in developmental services—given the health and safety risks associated with all frontline work, it is imperative that all developmental service agencies provide their workforce with WSIB coverage.
  • Consult with labour unions, workers and people living with disabilities to inform service reforms—workers, people living with disabilities, and their families and caregivers are experts on what it’s going to take to ensure that service transformation is appropriate, sustainable, and meets the needs of service users.

Developmental service workers are overworked, rapidly burning out, and are witnessing people living with developmental disabilities suffer because they cannot access the supports that they need and deserve.

It’s time for our government to stop ignoring workers and to ensure the full participation of adults with developmental disability in our communities today.