Ministry Employee Relations (MERC) News TALK CONNECT UNITE
December 2011 – Issue 2
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 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 this document.
“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 Season.
OPSEU to Frances Lankin: Improve income assistance for people with disabilities
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.
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 PSC positions.
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 Review.
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 “for sale”
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 email@example.com
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 members.
“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 their MPPs/media
- 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 Fairness
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 representatives.
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 @ firstname.lastname@example.org
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