May 23, 2012
OPSEU members who work for the Ontario Disability Support Program spoke out against the downloading of the provincial program to municipalities in seven communities.
Members handed out flyers to the public before work or during their lunch hour in Sarnia, Hamilton, Brantford, Peterborough, Belleville, Smiths Falls and Sault Ste. Marie. Hawkesbury ODSP members showed their concern about downloading by wearing black and holding a lunchtime info session.
“There was loads of support from people,” said Bev Quackenbush, an ODSP caseworker and president of Local 123 in Sarnia. ODSP members handed out 250 flyers before work outside a local mall. “People honked their horns and everyone took our flyers.”
Local Labour Councils and Area Councils participated in many of the events. ODSP clients were supportive.
Local 455 president Pam Smith of the ODSP office in Belleville said: “One client summed it up best: I really like having my own case worker, the service is so much better now than before, it doesn’t make sense to change it.”
The union is concerned a provincial Commission will recommend combining ODSP with Ontario Works in its final report in June. The union believes this will remove long-term support for people with disabilities and lead to inconsistent delivery of services across the province. A recent overhaul to customer service was designed to end delays and provide long-term, seamless support to clients.