Tayside Community Residential and Support Options
Wednesday January 31, 2007 at 3:30 p.m.
Location: Ramada Inn on the Bay, in the Park Ballroom
11 Bay Bridge Road,
Tayside is a multi service agency providing residential and support services to adults with intellectual disabilities through four group homes, support of independent living to 16 individuals in the community, family home arrangements for 3 individuals. In addition to the developmental services Tayside operates three licensed child care centres providing licensed child care to 120 children as well as 18 social housing units.
The bulk of our activities focus on the care of individuals with intellectual disabilities and it this area that we want to focus attention on today. The Developmental Services sector is under extreme pressures that need immediate attention.
For too long has the sector been under-valued and the work that families and communities have undertaken to care for the most vulnerable in our society has been taken for granted. It is time to value the work undertaken by our agencies and it is time to value the staff providing these services.
Although some agencies in the developmental sector have reached some form of salary parity with other areas of the greater public sectors there remains many agencies, like Tayside, that are still far behind.
We Must Value the Work
In our agency 89 of the 96 employees are women working for salaries ranging from $10.83/hour to the $16.0-$19.00 range. The largest numbers of employees are in the 50- 60 age bracket. Needless to say, few employees are at the top of the salary scale. Our employees have just recently been covered by a basic pension plan and we still do not have a dental plan or adequate protection for drug costs. For example, we have just retired two women whom have devoted their lives to the care of those most vulnerable in our community and these two women have no pension whatsoever.
The recent “targeted funding allocations” have provided some level of support to our agency in these areas but we still have a long way to go. The “Targeted Funding” initiative also continued the practice of comparing under-funded agencies to other underfunded agencies. This practice will continue to keep wages in the sector depressed. It is imperative that we deal with the salary and benefit disparities within the greater public sector if we are going to attract young and motivated professionals into the field. We as a society must do better than to condemn this entire group of woman to poverty level incomes in their old age. We must do better.
Furthermore, most agencies are years away from achieving Pay Equity targets for their staff. This should be addressed immediately. The clerical work alone, in keeping track of this process, is mind boggling.
We Must Recognize the Need for Expanded Services
There are many families with aging parents looking after their adult children with intellectual disabilities who are becoming too old and frail to care for their children. There is no place for these adult children to go and families are becoming desperate. We as a society have been taking this care completely for granted and now there is no one to pick up where they will leave off. We must do better.
We must provide these families with the piece of mind that their adult children will be cared for with the same love and devotion that they have displayed over these many years. There are young parents struggling to provide care for their children with intellectual disabilities in their homes but they need help too. They need child care for their older children (12-16) once they become too old for the child care system, they need respite care and they need family supports in the home that is reliable. All these needs continue to go unmet. We must do better.
In Lanark County there are many agencies that are ready and willing to pick up the challenge but we need the help of the Provincial Government. If we are going to rely on community agencies to provide direct care to the most vulnerable in our society these agencies must be provided an improved funding structure. We must put in place a stable long term funding plan that will enable the community agencies to address the many inequities in the current system.
We Need Long Term Stable Funding
We should bid goodbye to the days of “March Madness” where agencies are informed two – three months before March 31 that there are chunks of money to spend but only on stipulated items.This is chaos. It does not allow for due diligence, it does not allow for planning it does not allow for strategic thinking of any kind.
There must be a long term commitment to meet the needs of the many vulnerable individuals in the community on our waiting lists, there must be a long term commitment to value the staff working in our agencies and we must value the entire population of individuals with intellectual disabilities so they and their families really do feel included in our society.