(ST THOMAS) – 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.
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