Disabilities workers get their day off

Christopher Gooding
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SPRINGHILL – Taking a sick day just got easier for the 400 staff members across the province that work with people with disabilities. 

The province announced $900,000 this week, effective January 1, for hiring relief staff and for the Golden Opportunities Vocational and Rehabilitation Centre [GOVRC] here in Springhill it’s not only welcome news, it presents an opportunity to strengthen the existing bond with the local college.

“It’s good news for us because we’ve depended on volunteers t help out during vacations or when someone gets sick,” Joanne Hunter, manager of the GOVRC in Springhill, said. “We’ve been going for years relying on volunteers.”

The GOVRC is a vocational training facility for mentally challenged adults and a small paid staff guides clients, offering such services as woodworking, agriculture and other contracts.

The new money could also be a boost for some students attending Nova Scotia Community College’s Community Disabilities Support program at the Cumberland Campus here in Springhill, and just down the road from the GOVRC.

“There’s an opportunity to hire students [for sick days/vacation] because the people we would hire would need to have the training they receiving at the college,” Hunter said.

Community Services Minister Denise Peterson-Rafuse announced the funding on August 27, saying staff members in the 29 agencies across the province will benefit from the commitment when they are sick or need to be away from work.

"This is one of many steps the province will take as we move forward with individualized, person-focused, quality programs for people with disability throughout Nova Scotia," Peterson-Rafuse said in a government press release.

Through the DirectioNS Council, the province supports 29 agencies that deliver services to more than 2,000 people with disabilities. Participants volunteer or work in the community, learn life skills and explore personal interests, and work or train in social enterprises and employment programs.

Adult vocational and employment programs in the province provide community-based programs for adults with disabilities. They complement residential and other community-based supports from the Services for Persons with Disabilities Program.

Organizations: Nova Scotia Community College, Golden Opportunities Vocational, DirectioNS Council Services for Persons

Geographic location: SPRINGHILL, Nova Scotia

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