Update : Social Services Conference March 2014 by Susan Matthews

Despite the ongoing SAMS training taking place in Ontario, this year’s conference was well attended and there was lots of discussion among the municipalities.

Here is a quick review of each Sector:

Children’s aid society

Lots of change due to a new funding structure , which means added stress to the workplace, elimination of programs due to the shortage on funding and staffing requirements are being reviewed which means elimination of jobs.

Developmental services

53 of the 63 contracts expire at the end of March. CUPE is working to establish better collective bargaining and a mobilization of locals. There is a push to contracting out many services in this sector.

Childcare

Pressure on municipalities to contract out services. Funding is an issue in this area, Wages continue to be kept low in this sector, varies by municipalities Need for coalition building to protect services and promote pay equity.

WSIB /health and safety

Less than 75% of workers in Ontario are covered under WSIB

SHAME!

CUPE is pushing for universal WSIB , visit their website covermewsib.ca read more and sign the petition. Some discussion took place regarding the psycho-social hazards in our work environment. Mental stress is one of those hazards and is having an impact in our workplace and is a health and safety issue going forward. 

Community Agencies

Increasing pressure from LHINS to merge services means cuts to staff along with maintaining the same work load and there is also pressure to keep the wages low in this sector.

Municipal sector

The keys areas of discussion are SAMS, reorganization of departments within municipalities, the introduction of the SUPER user and the download ODSP and OW

SAMS is definitely a 4 letter word!

All users of SAMS were expressing the same concerns:

  • Entering data is time consuming; terminology used in each tab is vague and not similar to SDMT
  • Too many tabs to maneuver thru screens are unrelated
  • Continuous use of the mouse means escalated WSIB claims (RSI and eye strain)
  • Length of time to enter all data is a workload issue
  • Concern with the privacy issue… this information is available to all?
  • Deskilling…. No thinking just input more like a data input job
  • The length of time to prepare and enter outcome plans another workload issue

FYI: Toronto has delayed training to June;

Province says Implementation is scheduled for the fall 2014, but all the indications and information provided is looking to a 2015 release

Workload issues will become a big concern with schedules for retraining (if 2015 is the due date)

Stress related injuries- psycho social issues are on the rise

Bullying and harassment in the workplace showing increase in the # of incidents

for those with a slower learning curve . The instigators: Supervisors and co workers

Some municipalities have introduced the super user. Each caseworker now delivers OW benefits, child care and housing.

Oxford County is an example of this. Just to add a little humour, one of the caseworkers at Oxford County while working with SAMS training was able to open, register a client and make him dead in just few clicks of the mouse? How easy is that?

Hours of work have changed for social services in Toronto it has been mandated by the city open till 6:00 (could this happen here?)

ODSP / OW download has been shelved for now

It could rear its ugly head after the municipal elections.

There were concerns on the pay differential in regards to ODSP workers/ OW workers.

 It is a real threat along municipalities along with the current education requirements for ODSP workers.

In some municipalities there is a $10,000 per year differential between ODSP and OW caseworkers.

Good news for our area: ours wages seem to be comparable.

– By Susan Matthews,

VP Job Evaluation