A province-wide Developmental Services Day of Action on May 27 let politicians, media and communities know loud and clear: Dignity is not optional. 10 different events were held from Owen Sound to Elmira and Ottawa to Toronto. Frontline service providers handed out flyers, had BBQs, held Block Walks and spoke with their MPPs. Families, politicians and citizens showed their support.
There is a crisis in this sector, and the time for funding is now. The 21,000 people on waiting lists cannot afford to wait any longer. Families should not be driven to such desperation that they must threaten to abandon their adult children just to get them the services they need. And there needs to be a serious commitment to decent wages to help stop the high turnover in staff.
People with intellectual disabilities and their families deserve to live with dignity. The frontline workers who provide the services these individuals depend on know what that means. Workers are prepared to do what it takes to get a commitment from government and to stop the deepening crisis in developmental services in Ontario.
In Sudbury, workers held a successful BBQ and leafleting, discussing the crisis with many community members. Supporters with picket signs and flyers canvassed the surrounding neighbourhood. More than 40 supporters came out for this event, and were joined by NDP candidate Joe Cimino, NDP MPP France Gelinas and Casey Lalonde, a Green Party candidate.
In London, workers held a dignity block walk. In nearby St. Thomas, workers walked from the courthouse to the employer’s offices where they offered them cake and drinks.
In Owen Sound, workers made a lot of noise on their walk, and stopped in to PC MPP Bill Walker's office. They left him some leaflets and a message about the crisis in the funding for developmental services. His staff and volunteers agreed with members’ concerns.
In Peterborough more than two dozen frontline workers attended a Dignity block walk.
In Thunder Bay, more than 20 workers gathered and were joined by NDP MPP Andrew Foulds. Both CKPR Radio and Thunder Bay News were on hand to cover the event.
In Picton, dozens of members rallied and were joined by the NDP MPP candidate Merrill Stewart and his campaign manager Andy Hansen. Tammy Moore, Nancy John, Lisa Fewster and Patti Markland went to see PC MPP Ernie Hardman. He would not commit to ending the crisis in DS or commit to anything at all.
In Toronto, while pouring rain was a deterrent, some core activists held a rally in spite of the weather.
In Elmira,16 members of Elmira Community Living joined in the Dignity Walk. Both local papers attended the event, and even joined in for part of the walk.
In Alliston, more than 20 frontline workers attended, and were joined by NDP MPP Andrew Foulds. The local radio MY FM did an interview.
In Cornwall, more than a dozen workers came out to a Dignity Block Walk which was covered by the local paper.
Here are some of the stories that appeared in the media about the Dignity events
Elmira: Observer Extra
Dignity is not optional, say developmental service workers
Prince Edward County: County Live
Block Walk message: Dignity should not be optional
OPSEU Takes developmental services funding cry to streets
Sudbury: Northern Life
Developmental services in crisis, says OPSEU
Sudbury: The Sudbury Star
OPSEU holds Sudbury protest
St. Thomas Times
Ontario Walks for Dignity aim to fix funding gap for developmental services
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