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Social Services News Issue 3: Spring 2012

Social Services News Issue 3: Spring 2012

We the North
We the North
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For Members in: Developmental Services Sector 2 Children’s Aid Societies Sector 4 Community Services Sector 5 Youth Corrections Sector 7 Child Treatment Sector 15 

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Message from the CSD Chair

The Drummond Report commissioned by the Ontario Government was released on February 15, 2012.   It begins by stating that: “Ontarians want excellent public services from their government…with the proviso that they must come at a cost Ontarians can afford”. The “overarching tasks” of the report include “sharpen(ing) the efficiency of literally everything the government does so Ontarians get the greatest value for money from the taxes they pay.” 

Community and Social Services recommendations are included in Chapter 8 and Labour Relations and Compensation can be found in Chapter 15.  While Drummond appears to acknowledge the challenge of finding the “right funding mix” (and formula) between “entitlement based” social programs (OW, ODSP and Ontario Child Benefit) and “discretionary based” programs (DS, Child Protection, CYMH, Childcare, Youth Justice and “other services”), his proposed solutions suggest there will be a narrowing of the definition of “entitlement” for discretionary based programs through increased use of inclusion and/or exclusionary criteria for the public not-for-profit services we provide.  This will likely have the real effect of rationing available services to Ontarians, and further downloading financial and emotional/mental costs onto Ontarian families who do not “qualify” for publicly funded services.  It appears that the push towards utilizing common centralized assessment tools and outcome measures in our Sectors to determine who “qualifies” for “what” will continue.  The belief that this will allow for greater “choice” and “control” for individuals and their families remains to be seen.   

The report also suggests that alternative bargaining models be investigated along with the strong message that amalgamations and mergers within our Sectors continue.  OPSEU has been working for many years on strengthening coordinated bargaining models within our Sectors (Developmental Services, Child Protection and Children’s Treatment).  Provincial Discussion Tables have already begun in the Developmental Services and Child Protection Sectors.  We anticipate that further discussions with government with a focus on improved labour relations within our Sectors will be a priority should the recommendations in Chapter 15 of the Drummond Report be accepted.

The full report can be found at: www.fin.gov.on.ca/en/reformcommission/index.html . I encourage our CSDC membership to review it and begin discussions at the local level about potential impacts on our services and how they are provided.

The Greek Philosopher Heraclitus stated: “Nothing endures but change.” We who work in Community and Social Services can certainly relate to this philosophy, as many of us cannot recall a time when we were not in some form of system “reform”! However, in accepting this philosophy, we can anticipate, prepare for and respond to whatever is ahead through collective networking and bargaining effective collective agreements that will ensure “excellent public services” endure for the years ahead.

In Solidarity,

Deborah Gordon
CSDC Chair

The Commission on Quality Public Services and Tax Fairness

Stand Up Campaign

Thank you to all who made written submissions or spoke at the hearings or town halls, which were held in January and February of this year. The Commission on Quality Public Services and Tax Fairness has compiled all the information from the hearings in their report Something to Value, which is available at:
http://www.publicservicesfoundation.ca

The Drummond Commission

The Drummond Commission report released February 16, 2012 recommended that the Ontario government “consolidate agencies and improve service delivery and integration both within the sector itself and with other sectors such as children’s services, health, education, and youth justice.” This is part of the greater plan to centralize and integrate social services in Ontario. OPSEU responded to the Drummond Commission report by writing the paper Out of Step with Ontario: A First Look at the Report of the Drummond Commission, which can be downloaded from the OPSEU website.

Sector 2: Developmental Services

We are OPSEU’s 8000 developmental service workers, representing one-third of Ontario’s Developmental Service workers. We have 66 bargaining units including 32 “Community Living” chapters.

Provincial Discussion Table (PDT):

The PDT met its unfortunate end on May 5th 2011. Despite the Ministry and Unions being clear that discussions at the table are about unionized members only, the employer group did not agree and wanted managers to be part of the discussions as well.

Pattern Bargaining:

With the end of PDT we made the obvious decision to return to pattern bargaining, in order to continue to move the sector forward. This year continues to be a busy year for bargaining, since half of our units are at the table.

Community Living Thunder Bay was the first contract ratified after the end of PDT and all Developmental Service locals were encouraged to accept no less than the terms of that agreement. Many locals have had success with achieving the standard set out in the Thunder Bay agreement.

Bargaining will continue to present its challenges in our current economic climate since the government is promoting austerity measures as the only solution. We need to continue to stand together and support each other. We are having success and making settlements due to the drive of our sector membership.

Sector submission to the Commission on Quality Public Services and Tax Fairness:

Our sector made a written submission to the Commission on Quality Public Services and Tax Fairness. We stressed the importance of the value of our work and that consistent under funding to our sector makes it difficult for us provide quality public services to support our clients. 

As the year moves forward we need to be cognizant of the of the challenges that will be thrown our way. We have to keep our lines of communication open as we learn of impeding mergers, layoffs and other workforce changes.

Sector 4: Children’s Aid Societies (CAS)

Pink Shirt Day

OPSEU members once again marked National Pink Shirt day on February 29 with the message that there is no place for bullying in our workplaces and communities. Members across the province marked the day by participating in local events and wearing their pink T-shirts.

NUPGE Child Protection working group

Jane Kaija, CAS Sector Chair and Tracy More, OPSEU Staff Negotiator attended the NUPGE Child Protection working group in Ottawa on February 16th and 17th. Various members working in child protection from across Canada also attended, representing British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Nova Scotia. Each province wrote a component report which consisted of Bargaining, Health & Safety and also Campaigns related to Health & Safety and Workload. Not surprising our counterparts across the country echoed the same issues. The final report is likely due out by May and will be shared with everyone.

Membership Dues

Secretary-Treasurer, Michael Rowan has sent out a reminder to pay the dues for the year. Please make your cheque payable to “Sector 4 CAS.” The cheque can be given to Michael at convention or mailed to Michael at:

Michael Rowan, Secretary-Treasurer|
104 Leona Street, Cornwall, ON   K6H 5L7

The Agenda with Steve Paikin

The November 29th episode of the Agenda with Steve Paikin entitled Fostering a Better Outcome brought to light the importance of our work. Importantly, it highlighted the fact that if 10 per cent of our paperwork was taken away it would amount to 1.2 million hours that could potentially be spent on frontline care. The episode can be viewed online at:  http://theagenda.tvo.org/episode/141066/fostering-a-better-outcome

SECTOR 5: COMMUNITY AGENCIES

Leadership training in June

The Sector 5 Community Agencies Executive Committee has been hard at work over the past several months and we are excited to announce a leadership training conference June 8 – 10 in Toronto for Sector 5 activists.

After mobilizing last May 2011 for Sector 5, members expressed that they felt disconnected from OPSEU as a whole. They said they needed training and to know how to access resources to better serve their members and the union.

This leadership training weekend is designed to help all of you. You will come away with the tools to better mobilize and build solidarity within your locals and bargaining units. You will also be able to network with other members who do the same type of work and struggle with the same issues as you. Importantly, you will all be connected.

The training goal is to have each activist:

  • Understand OPSEU, its structure, and how to access resources within the union; 
  • Know how to interpret your contract;
  • Know steward rights and responsibilities, and how to handle grievances;
  • Know how to mobilize your local.  You will map out your local and leave with a plan to get your members engaged and connected; and,
  • Walk away with a folder filled with resources.

Although the goal is to educate members in sector 5, there will be opportunities to network with other members. We will be hosting a wine and cheese social on the Saturday evening.

Up to three people per bargaining unit can attend. It will work best if two stewards and a new activist come as a team. Space is limited and we encourage you to speak to others in your bargaining unit and get your applications in as quickly as possible. 

To obtain an application please contact Michelle Norman at mnorman@opseu.org  or 1-800-268-7376

Survey Results

Thank you to all who completed the Sector 5 survey online or by mail.  We had a fantastic response and we will be sharing the results at our Sector 5 caucus meeting at the OPSEU convention on Thursday April 19th. Our Sector 5 caucus meeting will also include a 40-minute presentation on the new BPS Pension Plan-TOPPS.  All Sector 5 members at convention are encouraged to attend.

SECTOR 7: JUSTICE SECTOR
News from Sector Executive

Welcome to our newest members

Congratulations to our newest members from the Elizabeth Fry Society of Ottawa. Our new 39-member bargaining unit will be part of OPSEU local 479. Frontline-staff include counselors and residential support workers that provide practical and effective support for women incarcerated in provincial and federal institutions. We understand the unique problems faced by members working in the criminal justice system and as such these new members will receive excellent representation.

The impact of the Drummond Report on the Justice Sector

The importance of province wide coordinated bargaining was underscored with the recent release of the Drummond report, which advised the Ontario government on cuts to public services and pensions. The attack on public services threatens us all, but for many members in our sector this threat is deeper, since there is no recognition that our compensation and working conditions are already below what are considered acceptable standards. With the implementation of Drummond’s recommendations there will be pressure to force amalgamations and closures and also reduce benefits and wages, ultimately resulting in greater disparities in our sector. The impact is already being felt with the recent closure of Salvation Army Booth House, an open custody unit. Now is the time to take a stand together and protect the quality public services that we provide.

Stay tuned for a campaign

The general public is mostly unaware that not all public services are created equally.  As frontline staff in the Justice sector we deal with some of the highest- risk youth in Ontario. We cannot run away from dangerous situations. We are forced to deal with violent and traumatic scenarios that the general public is unaware of. However, despite the risk and involvement level of our work, many of our members make little above minimum wage and are required to have a three-year Child and Youth Worker diploma at minimum. We are devising a campaign to create awareness around this issue. Please stay tuned for more information.

Your opinion please

We want to improve our communications network and are asking BPS Corrections members to send their personal secure email address to our sector executive email address  BPSCorrectionsSEC@gmail.com. Feel free to email us ideas, concerns and stories.

Increasing solidarity within our sector

One of our sectors goals is to continue to build solidarity in our sector and to educate the general public about the issues affecting our frontline staff.  We have excellent, caring, highly-educated, underpaid frontline staff working in very stressful working environments in an effort to help rehabilitate violent and repeat criminal offenders. For many of us our work is not just a job, it is a career choice. However, the public services our members provide cannot operate with further wage or benefit cuts.  We have already gone several years without increases. As we get closer to our first attempt at coordinated bargaining in 2013, we will be increasing our lobbying efforts and promoting our sector wherever possible.

Sector 15: Child Treatment

Finding the “Right Mix”

OPSEU’s Children’s Treatment Sector Members understand that for us to do our jobs well, it is essential to maintain a healthy work-life balance.  Our Kids Matter Campaign promotes the principles of “stability” and “help kids can count on” as being key ingredients to being effective in the work we do.   These principles are supported by research regarding Continuity of Care and Timeliness of Service Response to children, youth and their families.   These principles just as importantly apply to good labour relations and strong collective agreement language.   System Transformation creates challenges to find “balance” and the “right mix” of accountability in “client care” (work) and “self care” (life).   

If government accepts the recommendations from the Drummond report in respect to CYMH and Labour Relations reform, further amalgamations and mergers will likely be in our collective future.   As well, there is a possibility that alternative bargaining structures will be employed and we need to be ready to ensure the “right mix” in addressing work-life balance is achieved.  It will be important for us to have a good understanding of the challenges facing our present workforce, what is working and what needs to be addressed within a collective bargaining environment.

At the BPS Conference held in June 2011, the Copenhagen Psychosocial Questionnaire (COPSOQ) was piloted with the CSD membership in attendance.  COPSOQ is a validated questionnaire developed in Denmark that evaluates related sources of work place stress to self-reported health symptoms.   It considers such factors as Work Environment, Personal Health and Well-Being, Work Effects on personal/ family life and the effects of conflict and offensive behaviours in the workplace.

We will be reviewing the preliminary COPSOQ results at Convention during our CTS Caucus meeting.   This is the first step in engaging our members in the importance of participating in this project.  We are working with Terri Aversa (OPSEU Health and Safety) and believe that the information gained through your participating will help us all prepare for the work ahead.  Stay tuned and get involved!

OPSEU Local 666 strike boosts job security and work-life balance

As proud members of OPSEU Local 666 and frontline staff at the Child and Family Centre of Sudbury, we took a united stand in our strike a few months ago. We were off the job for 19 days in November and December. We were forced to go on strike to win contract language on job security and work-life balance for frontline workers.

With 83 members in three towns in the Greater Sudbury area, we stayed in touch by email and our closed Facebook page. Despite the distance, we maintained solidarity among our members in Espanola, Manitoulin Island, and Chapleau.

There were other contributions to our success. Our members put together a video now on YouTube. We had regular media coverage and support from parents, the public, other OPSEU locals and also the OPSEU executive board members, staff representatives and other staff.

We are now back at work and dealing with the after-effects of the strike. However, I am glad we stood up together for what we thought we were entitled to because we matter just as much as
kid’s matter.

Rachelle Lacoste

Local 666 steward and CTS vice-chair

Local 666 Child and Family Centre of Sudbury are the proud recipients of the

2012 Leah Cassleman Award

GOVERNMENT LEGISLATION (how it affects you and your work)      

College of Registered Psychotherapists and Registered Mental Health Therapists of Ontario (CRPRMHTO) Update

Will the CRPRMHTO affect you and your job?  The mandate of the College is to protect the public through regulation of those who practice psychotherapy across the Province. 

Who is excluded from having to be a member of this new College?  Those individuals who are already a member of: the College of Physcians and Surgeons of Ontario, The College of Nurses of Ontario, the College of Psychologists of Ontario, The College of Occupational Therapists of Ontario and the College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers of Ontario following amendments made to their respective Regulatory College language.

What does “practice of Psychotherapy” mean as defined by Bill 171 legislation?

If your job duties meet the following criteria/definitions you will likely be required to be a member of the CRPRMHTO:

From Bill 171

Definitions in Code

(3)  Definitions in the Health Professions Procedural Code apply with necessary modifications to terms in this Act.

a) Scope of practice: The practice of psychotherapy is the assessment and treatment of cognitive, emotional or behavioural disturbances by psychotherapeutic means, delivered through a therapeutic relationship based primarily on verbal or non-verbal communication.

b) Authorized (Controlled) Act  “In the course of engaging in the practice of psychotherapy, a member is authorized, subject to the terms, conditions and limitations imposed on his or her certificate of registration, to treat, by means of psychotherapy technique delivered through a therapeutic relationship, an individual’s serious disorder of thought, cognition, mood, emotional regulation, perception or memory that may seriously impair the individual’s judgement, insight, behaviour, communication or social functioning”.

The RHPA (Regulated Health Professions Act) states that:

  • unregulated individuals may not perform restricted activities/controlled acts.
  • Members of regulated health professions may perform only those controlled acts authorized for their profession

Once enacted, this legislation will likely change the landscape for some of the job postings across the sector to include affiliation requirements (and the cost of annual fees to belong to the college). OPSEU submitted a brief under Bill 171

https://sefpo.org/news/Press2007/041607
submissiontostandingcmte.pd f on the scope of the legislation and the impact on the social services sector.  For more information please visit: www.collegeofpsychotherapists.on.ca

The work of the Transitional Council of the CRPRMHTO continues.  As noted on their website:

1. The draft Registration Regulation was approved by Council on December 8, 2011 for submission to the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. 

  • Under development for almost two years and draft underwent two rounds of stakeholder consultation last year.
  • Stakeholder feedback resulted in changes to the draft regulation.
  • a number of minor changes were made, as well as two more significant changes:
  • an additional condition was added for independent practice by Registered Mental Health Therapists; and

b)     the words “aboriginal healing” were changed to “indigenous practice”.

Feedback on these changes was to be submitted by stakeholders between January 6th and March 5th.

The Transitional Council plans to submit final drafts of regulations to the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care after the public consultations and will be looking at registration in the fall of 2012.

THE OPSEU PENSION PLAN SYSTEM

The OPSEU Pension Plan System (TOPPSFund) – A pension plan for the Broader Public Sector

The OPSEU Pension Plan System (TOPPSfund) was designed specifically to give OPSEU member’s and their families an important source of financial protection — and a foundation for building a secure future.

Some TOPPSfund features are:

  • Flexible contribution levels – Employee contribution levels start at an affordable 3% of wages. Employers must at a minimum match employee contributions.
  • Benefits are targeted – Pension benefits are based on a benefit formula taking into account things such as contribution history and years of plan participation.
  • Life/10 Guarantee – Your pension is payable for life and guaranteed for ten years. This means that if you die within the first ten years of retirement, your full pension payments will continue to be made for the remainder of those first ten years (the guarantee period). Thereafter, survivor benefits may apply.
  • Survivor Benefits – In the event of a pensioner’s death, after the guarantee period (see Life/10 Guarantee above), a surviving spouse will be eligible for survivor benefits of 60% of the pensioner’s benefit payable for their natural life. Other survivor benefit scenarios also apply depending on when death occurs, and the amount of continuous service in the Plan.
  • Optional part-time and casual employee participation – If you regularly work less than 24 hours per week, participate only if you qualify and want to!
  • Normal Retirement Age of 65 – With options to retire as early as age 55, and as late as age 71.
  • Buybacks – You can “buyback” up to 5 years of pre-membership service to build a bigger pension.
  • Joint Trusteeship – The Board of Trustees of TOPPSfund will be comprised of 50% Union Trustees and 50% Employer Representatives. Their role is to ensure that the Plan is well managed on behalf of individual members and Participating Employers. One of the Board’s key responsibilities is to choose the experts and other specialists required to help run the Plan and invest its assets, ensuring the long-term stability and growth of TOPPSfund.
  • Administration – TOPPSfund will be administered by Manion Wilkins and Associates Ltd., a Third Party Administrator who will be responsible for things such as signing up new members, receiving contributions from employers, answering questions and preparing annual pension statements.
  • Professionally managed assets – The assets of the TOPPSfund will be professionally managed in line with the Trustee’s Statement of Investment Policies and Procedures.

Joining TOPPSfund is done through negotiations between OPSEU and Employers with OPSEU bargaining units. Once participation in the Plan and contribution levels have been agreed to, a Participation Agreement is signed. The Participation Agreement outlines the terms of participation in TOPPSfund, such as the negotiated contribution levels and timeliness of remittances to the Plan.

On a one-time basis, upon initial enrolment, non-union employees may also join TOPPSfund at the same contribution rate as OPSEU members.

For more information, or to request a presentation on TOPPSfund, contact the OPSEU Resource Centre at  1-800-268-7376 or E-mail: TOPPSfund@opseu.org

HEALTH & SAFETY

Work on “Stress” steams ahead!

In the last edition we reported that a survey done at the 2011 BPS Conference showed that workplace burnout, stress, sleep deprivation, excessive levels of bullying and harassment are taking their toll on members of OPSEU’s Community Services Division.  

The Copenhagen Psychosocial Questionnaire (COPSOQ) Questionnaire relates sources of stress (both workplace and home) to symptoms and the general health that workers are experiencing.  The questionnaire is used worldwide and has a population of data in Denmark to compare our results to.  It provides a useful tool to see where efforts to improve should be focused. Our surveys showed very low trust in management, and low justice and respect.  Our survey of our 153 delegates showed almost twice as much emotional demand in our jobs as the Danish population, not surprising because of the work we do caring for people.  Even worse, levels of workplace violence, threats of workplace violence and bullying are at least 13 times greater for our sample as in Denmark’s data. 

After we reported these findings to survey participants, we got many calls and emails of members wanting to use the COPSOQ at their workplaces. We’ve been waiting for the COPSOQ to be put online and for it to be paired with a resource about how to use it and how to develop a local action plan. These materials are going to be ready shortly and then we will move ahead to collect more data within sectors, likely using one sector to start. We will also make the resources available to locals and members who wish to do work on this issue in their workplaces. The COPSOQ collects data and identifies the top three priorities to focus local action on. Knowing the top three areas in which to focus helps inform JHSC and union work and helps expose the workplace factors that detract from a worker’s health and well-being.

Books & Movies to Inspire:

  • The Garden (2008)  The Garden is about the South Central Farmers, a group of dirt-poor Los Angelenos who took a track of urban ruin and turned it into an Eden–only to see the flora they so lovingly planted and tended be bulldozed by a selfish land owner. This film is about their dignity, determination and their fight to preserve their garden–and what they’ve done to recover from its loss.
  • In A Better World (2011 Best Foreign Film)  “Bathed in a golden light that contrasts with the film’s dark emotional currents, In A Better World brilliantly dramatizes the vexing problem of trying to do right in a world of situational ethics” – Peter Howell, The Toronto Star
  • Chris Hedges “Death of the Liberal Class” (2010)  No one is spared Hedge’s criticism as to why we have a ‘permanent underclass’ (including the Democratic Party, churches, unions, the media and academia).   No wonder he is a supporter of the “Occupy” Movement!

BARGAINING HIGHLIGHTS

Sector 2 :

L.166 Middlesex Community Living

A four-year agreement effective April 1, 2010 expiring March 31, 2014, settled at conciliation

  • general wage increase of 1.75% and 1.75% in the final two years
  • lump sum; $1000 for full time, prorated for part time.

L.336 Community Living West Northumberland

A four-year agreement effective April 1, 2010 expiring March 31, 2014, settled at conciliation

  • general wage increase of $0.40 April 2012 and $.40 April 2013
  • lump sum; $1400 for full time and $450 for contract
  • improvement to bereavement leave; now includes step family.

L.597 Montage Support Services of Metropolitan Toronto

A four-year agreement effective April 1, 2010 expiring March 31, 2014, settled at mediation

  • general wage increase of $0.50 April 1, 2012 and $0.50 April 1, 2013
  • educational stipend; $1500 for FT, $1000 for PT and $500 for relief
  • mileage increased to $.040 from $0.33, organization will match rate given to managers
  • increased bereavement leave for PT staff
  • Agreement to have a TOPPS pension plan presentation

Sector 4 :

L 344 – CAS of Northumberland

A four-year agreement effective January 1, 2012 expiring December 31, 2015, settled at conciliation

  • general wage increase 2.95% and 2.95% in the final two years
  • health and welfare spending account – $1000 at ratification, $1000 every year of the agreement and every year after that
  • letter of understanding re: hours of work
  • letter of understanding re:  workload
  • health & safety language; harassment training
  • cell phone allowance of $30
  • WSIB
  • mileage $0.47 at ratification, $0.49 in 2013, $0.50 in 2014

Sector 5 : 

L.509 Fred Victor

A three-year agreement effective April 1, 2011 expiring March 31, 2014, settled at mediation

  • general wage increase of 1.5% April 1, 2012
  • lump sum $750, April 1, 2013
  • mileage increased to $.040 from $0.33, organization will match rate given to managers
  • paid training for relief & seniority recognized when applying for jobs

Sector 15 :

L 332 – New Path Youth & Family Counselling

A four-year agreement effective April 1, 2011 expiring March 31, 2015

  • general wage increase 1% on April 1, 2012, 1% on Oct 1, 2012, 1.75% on April 1, 2013 and 2% on April 1, 2014
  • $1000 prepaid Visa for all employees (excludes contract) employed as of April 1, 2011 – non-taxable benefit
  • NEW no contracting out language
  • extra day vacation per year for employees in excess of 17 years (max 5 days)
  • NEW WSIB language
  • mileage increase from $0.41 to $0.48
  • NEW Restructuring language re: mergers, amalgamations, etc.

L 334 – Peterborough Youth Services

A three-year renewal agreement effective April 1, 2012 expiring March 31, 2015

  • GWI – 2.5% April 1, 2012, 2% April 1, 2013, 2% April 1, 2014.
  • Anniversary lump sums: At 5 years will recieve $500, at 10 years will recieve $500, at 15 years will recieve $1000, at 20 years will recieve $1500
  • Lump sum at ratification – each employee will recieve an amount depending on the amount of years they have worked (5, 10, 15 or 20 yr amounts)
  • Improvement to Benefits – vision care $300 for adults every 24 months, $200 for children under 20 ever 12 months