News

Tough road ahead for Community Living Tillsonburg

By Chris Abbott, Postmedia Network

Volunteers serve up a bowl of soup during Community Living Tillsonburg's 2014 (41st Annual) Valentine Luncheon and Bazaar at Avondale Church in Tillsonburg. The Community Living Tillsonburg fundraiser was expected to raise more than $4,000 which would be mainly directed to programs for children. (CHRIS ABBOTT/TILLSONBURG NEWS)

Volunteers serve up a bowl of soup during Community Living Tillsonburg's 2014 (41st Annual) Valentine Luncheon and Bazaar at Avondale Church in Tillsonburg. The Community Living Tillsonburg fundraiser was expected to raise more than $4,000 which would be mainly directed to programs for children. (CHRIS ABBOTT/TILLSONBURG NEWS)

Community Living Tillsonburg's pay equity issues are not new. But the situation has become dire enough that CLT wants to share the information with their stakeholders, their membership, their funders, and the community.

They are between a rock and a very hard place.

Their estimated pay equity liability owed - if no payments are made - will be $1.5 million in 2017, said CLT board member Virginia Armstrong.

"If we don't pay it, it could grow to $3.5 million by 2021. It accrues every year."

And how do they pay $1.5 million?

"That's exactly our question," said Armstrong. "And this is why we are in this position, we don't have any funding for that. We don't get funding from the government for that, which at one time they did fund us for that amount. They stopped that funding, and yet they still expect us to pay it. And continue to do so."

To determine wages, Community Living Tillsonburg had to go through a process where positions were compared to those at London's Victoria Hospital, where wages were significantly higher, in some cases $9-11 per hour more.

In Oxford County, however, Community Living Tillsonburg CEO Marty Graf cited a 2011 report that showed their child care wages ($19.47) were on the higher side of a $12.65 to $21.86 scale.

"I think the legislation has caused this problem," said Graf.

"The Ministry of Education is providing us with wage enhancement funding, but the conditions of those funding is that it can't be applied against the pay equity targets."

"So the problem is we're bringing money in, but it can't be applied to that," Armstrong nodded. "That's our dilemma."

Armstrong said Community Living Tillsonburg's board has met numerous times with government officials, and they have been asked to look at fundraising.

Donations and fundraising revenue totalled $25,017 in 2014 and $21,837 in 2015, just a sliver of their approximate $8.5 million budget, with the majority of funds coming from ministry funding.

"It's just not sustainable," said Armstrong, who stressed, "We are not going to sell the group homes... homes that we worked so hard to provide for the people that we provide services.

"Or cut services, cut staff. We're not looking at that. That's not viable as well. That is a situation where we cannot provide proper service in a safe environment for those that we provide services for."

Armstrong said CLT attended a tribunal, where they asked the government to go back to former funding.

"Even if we pay the pay equity for this year... it's not sustainable. You're going to have the same issue next year or the year after.

"The board has been looking for answers, but we don't have any. The last thing we want to do is jeopardize the lives of the people we provide services to, the care we give them, or jeopardize the jobs of people we employ.

"The government is forcing us into a situation where we don't want to be, for sure."

"Initially the government had committed to funding pay equity," Graf explained. "They decided to cap it, and they decided we should manage it.

"This is a something that will be ongoing beyond the year 2045," said Graf. "So this is not sustainable. This continues for another 25-30 years."

The government has not set a hard 'deadline' to meet the pay equity shortfall.

"Not yet," said Graf.

"Not yet," Armstrong echoed, "but that could be tomorrow. It could be next week."

***

Auditors concerned about Community Living Tillsonburg's growing financial liabilities

Independent auditor Millard, Rouse & Rosebrugh LLP stated in the 2015-2016 annual report audit notes for Community Living Tillsonburg, that the service organization may face severe cash flow problems, and that uncertainty may cast significant doubt on its ability to continue as a "going concern."

This growing financial difficulty is the direct result of an escalating pay equity liability that has been accruing since 2010. That’s when the Government of Ontario stopped transferring funds to meet a government imposed and government regulated obligation. Moreover, Pay Equity Legislation requires annual pay increases of 1 per cent per annum based on the prior year’s gross payroll.

In April 2015, Community Living Tillsonburg was ordered by a Pay Equity Officer to pay its employees all arrears owing for pay equity since 2010. Community Living Tillsonburg has been unable to pay its pay equity obligations due to the lack of government funding, a position which the Pay Equity Hearings Tribunal has repeatedly rejected as a reason for transfer payment agencies not meeting their pay equity obligations.

Community Living Tillsonburg’s current pay equity liability is $1,137,500. If not paid, this liability will grow to more than $3,000,000 by 2021. If paid, the liability will still continue to grow based on the 1 per cent per annum escalating clause.

“This is a lose, lose, lose situation for the community of Tillsonburg, the people from this community who we serve and the people who we employ,” said Community Living Tillsonburg’s Board Treasurer John Haldane in a media release. “ Services, jobs and the community hub we’ve created are now at risk because our funder, the Government of Ontario, refuses to either cover the cost of pay equity or amend the legislation. Ironically, the jobs now at risk belong to the population that Pay Equity Legislation was meant to help.”

Community Living Tillsonburg sees none of the solutions recommended to date by government, such as mortgaging property, as viable. Both bankers and auditors have rejected that proposal due to Community Living Tillsonburg’s inability, as a not-for-profit, to repay. Other recommendations included reducing staff, a solution that puts both those being served and staff at increased risk and leads to layoffs.

ABOUT C.L.T.

 

Community Living Tillsonburg is a charitable, not-for-profit founded in 1955 that now employs 140 people full and part time. It provides support for people with intellectual disabilities and children’s services for families with children up to 18 years of age.

Community Living Tillsonburg (CLT)

History

1955 established to operate a school for developmentally disabled children and promote public awareness of their needs.

1970 service expanded to provide residential and vocational programs for adults.

1989 began providing childcare services including care for developmentally disabled children.

1998 established one of the first community hubs in Ontario.

Today it is home to 14 government service agencies and one of our daycare centres

It is also a role model for the way the Government of Ontario wants to deliver future services.

2000 shift to more individualized approaches to service delivery, empowering and supporting individuals to make informed choices from a range of options

Community Role

CLT currently provides support for 145 people with intellectual disabilities in residential, community participation and employment programs and 60 people in ODSP Employment Supports.

CLT currently provides childcare spaces for 102 children. And children’s programs including Ontario Early Years Centre, A Child First, Family Supports and In and Out of Home Respite for 750 children and their families.

It provides 140 full and part time positions.

Operates 10 residential properties,

4 daycare centres etc.

Supports and services for people with an intellectual disability and their families. include: Supported living, School to Work Transition, Job Skills & Employment Training, Employment, Family Supports, Community Recreation & Leisure

Funding

CLT receives all of its wage funding and some of its maintenance funding in the form of transfer payments from the Ministries of Social Services, Education and Oxford County

CLT’s operating budget for 2015 was $8,729,689. 92% came from transfer funds and 8% came from fundraising and fees.

Parents pay nominal fees for some services which helps offset some of the maintenance and materials costs.

Similar to hospitals, CLT holds occasional fundraising events such as golf tournaments to fund housing acquisition and structural maintenance.

Pay Equity

History

1988 Ontario passed Pay Equity Legislation. The purpose of the law was to assure workers equal pay for work of equal value — in particular, to address gender discrimination in the compensation of work by women.

Fully funded by government to the end of 2009.

Has a 1% per annum escalator clause and also grows in proportion to government funded Wage Enhancements.

Some agencies were made whole by government prior to government cutting funding for pay equity.

This means, unlike CLT’s situation, in many cases pay equity obligation had already been fully funded by government prior to 2010.

Other agencies have initiated staff and service cuts to address their pay equity liability

Government allows union to decide whether or not certain transfer funds can be applied to cover pay equity requirements

OPSEU determined that Wage Enhancement funds can’t be applied to cover pay equity obligations.

 

Status

Since 2010, CLT’s unfunded pay equity liability has grown to $1,137,000

At 1% per annum, by 2021 CLT’s unfunded liability will exceed $3,000,000

2015 some CLT Board Members resign rather than face potential liability for unfunded pay equity

April 2016, Ontario’s Pay Equity Tribunal determined that CLT must pay the pay equity liability within 60 days of a yet to be issued order.