Essex MPP gets first-hand look at the work of developmental services sector

 

Essex MPP Taras Natyshak joins Eva Penner in holding up a sign encouraging the use of the “R-word” be stopped. The “R-word” is “retarded” or variations of that word, which many with  a disability find to be a derogatory word.

Essex MPP Taras Natyshak joins Eva Penner in holding up a sign encouraging the use of the “R-word” be stopped. The “R-word” is “retarded” or variations of that word, which many with
a disability find to be a derogatory word.

Jeff Kapasi (left) chats with Essex MPP Taras Natyshak during Natyshak’s tour of Community Living Essex County’s Channel Resource Centre last Friday. Natyshak’s visit focused on development service workers.

Jeff Kapasi (left) chats with Essex MPP Taras Natyshak during Natyshak’s tour of Community Living Essex County’s Channel Resource Centre last Friday. Natyshak’s visit focused on development service workers.

By Ron Giofu

 

Workers in the developmental services sector received an opportunity to inform Essex MPP Taras Natyshak of what they do as Natyshak paid a visit to their workplace recently.

Natyshak paid a visit to Community Living Essex County’s Channel Resource Centre last Friday morning with the NDP MPP getting a first-hand look at the work that support workers do.

“I’m finding out how vital this program is,” said Natyshak.

Natyshak also took time to visit those with an intellectual disability that are supported through Community Living Essex County (CLEC) as they worked on a job for Precision Plastics.

“You get to meet wonderful people, hear their stories and understand how important of a role they can play in our communities,” said Natyshak.

Creating awareness was also key, he noted, and pointed out those supported through Channel are making a difference in society.

“These guys are doing important work, contributing to the region’s economy and making some money doing it,” said Natyshak.

The visit to Channel was a first for Natyshak, adding he found it to be an “eye opener” for him.

“Everyone is hard at work, full of smiles and contributing to a productive environment,” said Natyshak.

People with disabilities can make meaningful contributions, he believed, as those with disabilities still possess many skills.

“It’s not about the disability but the ability they have,” said Natyshak. “With support, we can see people shine. That’s a truly incredible thing.”

Natyshak added he believes the developmental services sector should get more funding from Queen’s Park. There is a mandate, he said, to help those who need it the most and services like those offered by Community Living Essex County should be identified and prioritized.

“Ensuring these programs are supported and workers are treated fairly and compensated adequately is important,” he said. “That creates a holistic system. We know everyone is being taken care of.”

Srila Perine, president of CUPE Local 3137, said Developmental Services Worker Appreciation Day was in January but scheduling conflicts delayed Natyshak’s visit until March. She said Natyshak has always been cooperative and supportive of the work being done.

“It’s all about the work we do,” said Perine.

Karen Charette, director of operations with CLEC, said the visit was to primarily focus on the support workers that directly work with the people the agency supports.

“It’s really a focus on the type of work we do and how valuable it is to the developmental services sector as a whole,” said Charette.

Charette noted the union has tried to organize visits by MPPs to other resource centres as well. She noted the work support workers do allows people to get employment, reach personal goals and improve lives.

“It’s helping people to get better lives in our community,” she said.

Support worker Tom Boutros said it is always nice to be recognized as well as for people to know what goes on at Channel. He said it is a job where the biggest satisfaction often comes “down the road when you see people’s lives have been changed and you’ve been a part of it.”

Helping those with an intellectual disability gain independence is another key, he continued.

“Part of our job is to put ourselves out of a job,” said Boutros.

The public often fears what they don’t know but Boutros said another part of their jobs is to get people, including employers, to know what the agency does. Getting those supported through CLEC into situations where they have “natural supports” like friends and coworkers is a goal. Support workers will “always be there” and will “always be a backbone” but getting those with an intellectual disability out and included within the community remains something they help strive for.

Michelle Jones-Rousseau, a CLEC support worker at Channel that assists in linking employers with those the agency supports, suggested businesses can find good, dedicated workers through Community Living Essex County. However, she admitted that it is often difficult to find work for people.

“There’s a lot of competition for the jobs,” said Jones-Rousseau.

Jones-Rousseau said she has been able to find work for nine people while she is trying to find work for an additional 11 people. She said businesses that may have opportunities can contact her at 519-736-5077.

“People we support have a lot of skills and haven’t had a chance to prove themselves,” said Jones-Rousseau.

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