Toronto Autism Services Could Fall At Risk As Workers Refuse To Accept Unfair Contract

Richmond Hill, Ontario — Over 100 frontline workers at Kerry’s Place, which offers Autism Services to many in the Greater Toronto Area, are voicing their frustration with the progress of bargaining a new contract and demanding more support for frontline developmental services.

In a recent letter sent to Kerry’s Place’s board of directors, the workers detailed the difficult and stressful conditions they have been working through since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, citing various outbreaks and working shifts that often exceed 12 hours. Rather than focusing on providing support for those in need, these workers have also been assigned other duties, including snow removal and landscaping. Making this even more problematic, developmental service workers are not legally required to be provided with WSIB coverage for workplace illnesses and accidents.

As part of their new contract, these workers are seeking increased mental health supports, a fair scheduling process, and a wage increase that would help them keep up with rising inflation and transportation costs. The workers say that up to this point, Kerry’s Place has not offered a contract that comes close to addressing any of these issues, and that if their offer doesn’t improve, they may be forced to hold a strike vote.

Developmental services across Ontario continue to suffer from underfunding by Doug Ford’s provincial government, leading to a direct, negative impact felt by residents and workers. Despite the lack of funding, however, these workers and their union say Kerry’s Place has the ability to significantly improve their working conditions.

“After more than two years of working through a pandemic under emergency orders imposed by Ontario’s provincial government, and now with inflation soaring to unseen levels, these incredible support workers are burnt out and struggling to make ends meet,” said Murray Cooke, SEIU Healthcare union representative. “They love the work they do and they love the people they support, but right now, they’re putting themselves at risk by working under their current conditions. All they want is a fair contract that allows them to provide the best possible support, while also being able to take care of themselves. That’s the least Kerry’s Place can do at this point.”