Ministry Employee Relations (MERC) News
TALK CONNECT UNITE
December 2011 - Issue 2
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Message from the Chair
Potential Downloading of ODSP
Three different processes that threaten our jobs and the
services we provide are now underway:
The Commission for the Reform of Social Assistance is examining
the social assistance system to make recommendations that are supposed to
improve the situation for the clients. Retired banker Don Drummond has been
asked by the McGuinty government to look at all public services funded by
government and make recommendations about what programs should be cut,
privatized or delivered by another level of government or the non-profit sector.
These recommendations are to be delivered in time to be
incorporated into the 2012 provincial budget; and The Deputy Minister of
Government Services, Bob Stark, wants to integrate social assistance, including
ODSP, and other provincial, municipal and federal programs into ServiceOntario.
Your MERC team, along with the Chair of the ODSP Sub-committee
and the Job Security Officer, met with Commissioners Frances Lankin and Munir A
Sheik of the social assistance review on Oct. 12. We presented our submission
which can be found on the OPSEU website
We also sent a submission to the Ontario Federation of Labour.
At our presentation, the Commissioners told us that one of the
options they are considering is recommending that the delivery of ODSP be
downloaded to the municipalities. We were shocked to hear this and we told them
emphatically that this is bad public policy. ODSP and Ontario Works are two
programs with different mandates, each serving clients with distinct needs. ODSP
was created to meet the unique needs of people with disabilities. The focus is
more on community inclusion, than on obtaining competitive employment.
We strongly believe operational improvements need to be made to
ODSP, however, the answer is not to download the program to municipalities. The
Commissioners invited us to put together “a business case” as to why we think
that ODSP should remain delivered by the province. This week we are finalizing
“We need to stand up and fight for our jobs and our clients now”
We will keep you up to date when we hear of any new information.
I urge you all to lobby your MPPs, the new Minister, John Milloy, the Deputy
Minister and Assistant Deputy Minister, all the way down to local managers and
explain why you think the province should continue to delivery ODSP. If you have
any questions please contact your MERC or ODSP Subcommittee members.
On behalf of MERC I would like to thank you for your dedication
and commitment. Keep up the great work.
We would also like to wish you and your families a Happy Holiday
OPSEU to Frances Lankin: Improve income assistance for people
November 21, 2011 The union representing workers at the Ontario
Disability Support Program (ODSP) calls on the provincially-appointed Commission
for the Reform of Social Assistance (CRSA) to improve the program instead of
downloading it to municipalities.
OPSEU has drafted an ODSP Business Case submission upon the request of the
Commission's co-chair, Frances Lankin, in advance of a CRSA Options Paper to be
released in December of 2011. Frances Lankin told the union at a meeting on
October 12 that the Options Paper could include a recommendation to download
ODSP onto municipalities.
OPSEU calls for the continued direct delivery of ODSP by the
Ministry of Community and Social Services together with substantial improvements
made to the program.
The people served by the ODSP are extremely vulnerable and often
financially and socially marginalized,” said OPSEU President, Warren (Smokey)
Thomas. “The province must not sacrifice accountability for these important
services as a cost-cutting measure.”
"People with disabilities have needs best served by the specialized and
experienced staff who currently care for them," continued Smokey. "Workers have
an established relationship with the people they serve, built on community
inclusion and personal contact."
The union recommends several improvements to ODSP. Services can
be made more accessible by increasing the number of offices and co-locating with
Ontario Works. Give caseworkers greater discretionary capacity to increase their
ability to help clients with more complex, individualized needs. ODSP can help
people get employment in their own communities, when appropriate, by bringing
back specialized professional services such Employment and Family Support
workers. Improvements can be made to benefit structures including increasing
asset limits, creation of a basic nutrition benefit, indexing of the shelter
amounts to the averages established by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and
Housing and provision of transportation passes.
The Business Case can be found on the OPSEU website
ONTARIO DISABILITY SUPPORT PROGRAM (ODSP)
The modernization of ODSP is moving into its last waves of the
recruitment process. Some regions have moved into wave three to hire the balance
of their caseworkers and some regions are currently seeking approval to file the
We are recommending that once the positions have been filled in
the offices that it would be the optimum time to revisit the service delivery
framework of each of the local ODSP offices.
Just when we thought things would be coming to the “new norm”
and that we could tweak and mold Service Delivery Frameworks and Service
Delivery for the client the new impediment to come to the Ontario Public Service
staff is the commissioned report by Donald Drummond and the Social Assistance
The commission has stated that the delivery of ODSP should be
transferred and administered by municipalities.
OPSEU is going to do its own review and we encourage you to
attend or submit your thoughts/opinion as to why/how ODSP SHOULD continue to be
administered by the employees of the Ontario Public Service.
Ontario Disability Support Program
STOP THE DOWNLOAD
Continued Direct Service Delivery
“Services to the most vulnerable citizens of Ontario are not
Campaign kick-off event – January 5th, 2012
Showing the winter blues
The workplace activity will center around members
wearing/displaying a themed colour scheme on specific days. January 5th will be
the first of such days.
To kick off the event a workstation/workplace decoration contest
will be held with the theme of using the colour blue.
(1st Prize $250, 2nd Prize $150, 3rd Prize $100 – Prizes provided by the ODSP
Subcommittee) Submissions of photos/videos can be submitted until 11:59pm
January 15th, 2012. Submissions can be sent to
Owner of a Broken Heart – February 14th, 2012
A special valentine with a broken heart will be provided to
local offices on, or before, February 1st so that members can fill out and send
to Dalton McGuinty by the 14th. They can be mailed directly or collected for
mass drop off. (postage is required for Queen's Park MPPs).
The broken heart will symbolize the broken promises of
successive governments to uphold their oaths as safeguarding Ontarians.
A full schedule of the themed colours is in the event schedule
(included in the lobby package). A Blue, White, Black cycle has been set for all
the Commission dates.
After the last February Commission day the cycle will run on a
Monday, Wednesday, Friday schedule until March 20th when the campaign ends.
Single day themes have been added to highlight specific events
such as red on Valentine's Day, green for the last day and adding two days of
pink to tie into the “Cuts Hurt Us All Campaign”
Spring Break – March 20th, 2012
Green and White Cake Day
The campaign end will be a thank you event with Green being the
colour of the day. This will be an acknowledgement of the contributions of the
“Be sure to order your cake ahead of time!
To support the campaign several resources have been created for
distribution, these include:
• A lobby package to assist members bringing ODSP issues to
• An ODSP focused PowerPoint presentation for local information sessions
• A calendar of events during the campaign
• Information regarding the Commission on Quality Public Services and Tax
Ministry File Review Committee (MFRC)
This committee is mandated to review and attempt to come to
resolution of outstanding grievances that have failed to come to a resolution at
the stage two grievance process.
Committee members are OPSEU Grievance Officer Allison Kabayama
and bargaining unit Stuart McInnes and Gail Williams. There are three employer
The committee has been productive in a couple of fronts
• Coming to satisfactory resolution for the grievor
• Has been beneficial in the gathering of information in preparation of GSB
hearings of the grievances where the committee is unable to reach a resolution
FAMILY RESPONSIBILITY OFFICE (FRO)
The Family Responsibility Office (FRO) continues down its path
to modernization. The new system is expected by Spring 2012. It has been a long
road since FRO's senior management first announced in 2000 that FRO would be
getting a new system.
In Client Services Branch the call centre has been discontinued
effective November 21, 2011. Clients will deal with their designated contacts at
FRO, with the expectation a call back within a specific time period if they
leave a message. Some staff suggested enforcement suffers when you are covering
for unavailable staff and need to meet these call-back targets.
The Support Services Branch continues to work towards
establishing and implementing the Outreach Program to new clients and the FROst
project. FRO is also continuing to have OSS deal with more and more of its'
outgoing mail. Phase One of FROst project, scanning incoming documents and mail
has been implemented. While Phase Two where responsibility for processing
payments sent by mail will not be implemented until all the growing pains of
Phase One have been resolved.
The Finance and Administration Branch has obtained short term
resources to help reduce the backlog of financial adjustments that ideally
should be completed before the new system is rolled out. Staff in the branch are
concerned that some of the financial work they do is being automated.
During the winter months training will begin on the new system.
Staff in all three branches will be under pressure to learn the new system while
maintaining service to our clients.
Health & Safety
Low Impact Debriefing- How to stop sliming each other
After a difficult session….
Are you sliming your colleagues? Are you being slimed? Can you
still be properly debriefed if you don’t give all the graphic details of the
trauma story you have just heard from a client?
Would you like to have a strategy to gently prevent your
colleagues from telling you too much information about their trauma exposure?
When helpers hear and see difficult things in the course of
their work, the most normal reaction in the world is to want to debrief with
someone, to alleviate a little bit of the burden that they are carrying. It is
healthy to turn to others for support and validation.
The problem is that we are often not doing it properly. The
problem is also that colleagues don’t always ask us for permission before
debriefing their stories with us.
To read the full article by Francoise Mathieu, 2008 go the
Compassion Fatigue website link @ http://compassionfatigue.ca/
“Helpers who bear witness to many stories of abuse and violence
notice that their own beliefs about the world are altered and possibly damaged
by being repeatedly exposed to traumatic material.” (Pearlman et al, 1995)
STAND UP FOR PUBLIC SERVICES AND TAX FAIRNESS
Assault on Ontario’s Public Services
This year the Liberal government launched the Commission on the
Reform of Ontario’s Public Services. Don Drummond, a former bank vice president,
has been charged with preparing a blueprint for radically downsizing the
province's public sector.
Like many other countries facing recession, corporate interests
have lobbied government to exploit the current fiscal crisis to exact further
concessions from workers.
The Commission’s report will inform the development of the 2012
Budget. Social services which have been historically under funded will be facing
cuts and the specter of privatization.
Unions will be at the forefront of this fight, exposing the
reality that austerity only benefits the top 1 per cent.
OPSEU is pleased to announce that the Public Services Foundation
of Canada (PSFC) has agreed to organize a “Commission on Quality Public Services
and Tax Fairness” which will host more than a dozen Hearings and Town Hall
forums across Ontario in January and February, 2012.
The Chair of the Commission is Judy Wasylycia-Leis, a former
Member of Parliament and a onetime cabinet minister in Manitoba. Ms Wasylycia-Leis
is the current Chair of the PSFC.
We encourage you to regularly check out the following websites
in order to stay up to date as the campaign planning unfolds over the next month
and as the open and comprehensive hearings get underway in January 2012:
www.standupontario.org (available soon)
If you have any stories that you would like to share please
submit your articles to Gail Williams @ email@example.com
Roxanne Barnes, Chair
Stuart McInnis, Vice Chair
W: 519-756-5790 ext 514
Family Responsibility Officee
W: 416-243-1900 ext7036
Gail Williams, Health and Safetyy
Dylan Lineger (Chair)
Results Based Plan