This week OPSEU members will mark Developmental Services Appreciation.
Developmental services workers, like many of OPSEU’s members, have been deemed essential workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. You have gone above and beyond to support and take care of the youth and adults with developmental disabilities in our communities. We are so proud and humbled by your dedication and commitment. On behalf of the 165,000 OPSEU members, our hat’s off to our 11,500 developmental services workers.
It’s taken a pandemic of such magnitude to highlight what we have been saying for years; developmental services workers, like many others in the caring professions, have been devalued for far too long. Looking after vulnerable youth and adults should be more than a minimum wage job. Whether you are supporting an individual with a developmental disability through an agency or individualized funding, the province should guarantee a minimum rate of pay for all DS workers that meets the living wage.
Pandemic pay was needed to retain the workforce and to limit workers to one location in a field characterized by low-wage, part-time work and a largely female workforce. These measures are positive for both workers and continuity of care and are well overdue.
OPSEU calls on the government to maintain pandemic pay for developmental services workers, to stabilize the workforce and eliminate precarious work in a field dedicated to supporting our most vulnerable.
The test of this government will not only be limited to how it responded to the immediate crisis, but more critically, to how it led society to a recovery that eliminates the gaps and the inequality that has led to poor, low-wage, and racialized people to be more at risk from the pandemic. Together we can lift our voices with others to demand for a recovery that is led by a courageous vision of a more just society.
We commend you for your work and passion during this uniquely challenging time.
Warren (Smokey) Thomas
President, Ontario Public Service Employees Union
Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida
Chair, Developmental Services