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New Path works with union to avoid labour disruption (update)

Salary increase demands increase risk of further service cuts for at-risk children, youth and families
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NEWS RELEASE

NEW PATH YOUTH AND FAMILY SERVICES

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9 a.m. update

Negotiators for the therapists, counsellors, and child and youth workers at New Path Youth and Family Services have reached a tentative settlement with the employer.

The 86 staff at the child and youth mental health agency belong to Local 332 of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU). They would have been in a legal strike or lockout position as of Friday at 12:01 a.m.

Talks had stalled with the employer, who was offering $700 gift cards in lieu of the modest wage hike workers had sought.

"We were asking for a small cost-of-living increase," said bargaining team chair Scott Stratton. "I'm glad we were finally able to convince the employer that $700 was not the right way to compensate staff for their long hours and dedication to their work."

OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas said he was very proud of Local 332.

"This employer tried to play hardball, but workers refused to cave in to stonewalling and intimidation tactics. When the employer saw that workers were determined to get a deal that respected their professionalism and commitment, they came back to the table at the 11th hour. I applaud the resolve and courage shown by these members."

The tentative deal will now go to the workers for a ratification vote. Further details on the date and details of the agreement are forthcoming.

8 a.m. original release

Talks are continuing as New Path Youth and Family Services (New Path) works with representatives from the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) to avoid a pending labour disruption, set to take effect at 12:01 a.m. tomorrow. 

While our team will continue to negotiate in good faith with our union partners and looks forward to a timely and mutually-agreeable resolution to this impasse, our organization’s bargaining position remains largely unchanged: further increases to employee wages are extremely difficult to sustain without additional cuts to client programming; an option that our organization considers unacceptable. 

“The services we provide are life-changing and any labour disruption puts close to 800 children, youth and families that we help each year across Simcoe County at risk,” said New Path CEO Glen Newby. “The reality is that we cannot continue to provide the same levels of mental-health support if salary obligations continue to rise.”

New Path has left key positions unfilled. 

But vacant positions have resulted in serious concerns related to program viability, further service reduction for current clients, and much longer wait lists for children and families requiring service. These disruptions are due, in large part, to a fixed funding structure and increasing salary liabilities. 

Our dedicated team of management and staff have upheld our organization’s commitment to providing high-quality mental-health services to Simcoe County’s diverse communities. The team has also proven adept at finding creative solutions to address these budgetary realities, including deriving savings in areas such as administration.

Indeed, over the past five years alone, New Path has increased compensation for our front-line staff through salary increases or lump sum payments and more paid days off by more than 5 per cent, plus bonus payments. External research has found that almost all front-line staff salaries are between 3.6 per cent and 11.2 per cent greater than the provincial average across the community-based children’s mental-health sector. Cumulative wage increases since 2007 have totalled more than 17 per cent, well ahead of inflation.  

“We employ some of the very best, hardest working and most dedicated people in Simcoe County and we are committed to providing them with a highly-competitive compensation package,” said Newby. “New Path appreciates the OPSEU position, and with the full support from our Board of Directors, we will continue to work hard to come to a fair settlement. Rest assured, we will continue to negotiate in good faith and are hopeful that an agreement can be reached without further delay.”

About New Path

New Path Youth and Family Services (New Path) is a publicly-funded, not-for-profit agency serving Simcoe County. Our mission is to provide exceptional support, and excellence in child and youth mental health service delivery, for both current and future clients. Our agency strives to create a positive work environment for our staff and values the important work they do. New Path touches the lives of more than 4,200 family members each year. For more information, visit www.newpath.ca 

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