Members of the Thunder Bay chapter of OPSEU walk down Arthur Street towards city hall from the office of Thunder Bay-Atikokan MPP Bill Mauro to rally against a lack of provincial funding for developmental services. Similar demonstrations were held throughout the province on Wednesday.
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More money is needed for developmental services, say members of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union.
Members of the public service union held demonstrations across Ontario Wednesday, with local workers staging their own at the parking lot of the office of Thunder Bay-Atikokan MPP Bill Mauro.
Protest organizer Ken Maclam said the number of people with developmental disabilities needing help exceeds the funding that has been made available by the province.
“There is a wait list of more than 23,000 people with developmental disabilities waiting for services across Ontario alone,” Maclam said, adding that in Thunder Bay there are about 400 people with developmental disabilities on a waitlist.
“This affects everybody, not just people with disabilities or people that work with them. The people on the wait list, some of the families can’t support their child anymore and the only way government guarantees service is to legal wards of the crown so a lot of families are having to give up custody of their adult dependent children to get them into support.”
Maclam, who works for Community Living Thunder Bay and is a representative for the local OPSEU chapter on the provincial committee said there are facilities available to remedy the waitlist issues, but shortages of funding has not made it feasible.
“There are available beds in Ontario for people with developmental disabilities but because of not having enough funding they don’t have the staffing or the capabilities of giving the supports to the people so the beds are left empty,” he said.
“We want the government to be accountable. We want them to know the issues and we don’t’ want them to behind any notions that they don’t know what’s going on.”
The Thunder Bay demonstration, which later headed to city hall, was meant to show solidarity with other similar protests throughout Ontario, mainly one held at Queen’s Park in Toronto.
In Toronto Mauro met with the executive members of the Thunder Bay OPSEU chapter that traveled down to the provincial capital to participate in the rally at the provincial legislature building.
Mauro met with the representatives around noon, and believes the government and the union can reach a solution.
“I had a great opportunity to chat with a number of the executive members from the Thunder Bay local of OPSEU that are down here today,” Mauro said.
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