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Ottawa-Carleton Association for

Persons with Developmental Disabilities (OCAPDD)
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ARC Industries

Adult Rehabilitation Centres exist all over the province, although they may not all be connected. The idea is simple: by getting adults with developmental disabilities working, they are able to gain personal fulfillment and important social interaction. Hopefully, this can lead to minimum wage paying and self-sustaining jobs. 

At OCAPDD, this has taken several forms. There was always work to be done at Silver Spring Farm, the Yelly Telly was a particularly remarkable ingenuity, Under One Roof still works with clients, and currently almost 100 clients are employed between the archives destruction and plant maintenance programs. Yet both programs may be at stake, and when programs like the ones at Silver Spring Farm ended, these were the ones clients could go to. Now, the future is unknown.

Plant maintenance

Gayle Murdie and Jim Rudkoski work on the plant maintenance project as horticulturists with OCAPDD. Trained workers check plants in different government buildings for yellow leaves, use moisture metre to check water levels, ensure plants and pots are all looking up-to-snuff and keep a general inventory. This has been going on since 1979 and the Canadian government has guaranteed the organization 25 per cent of the marketplace for contracts in the National Capital Region. This gets renegotiated every five years. 

But a few months ago, the government put a new plants-less policy in place. More people, less plants. Any departments who want to keep their plants are being asked to pay for it out of their own budgets now. Unsurprisingly, many departments are not keen on paying for something they never had to pay for before. There has been a hold on reducing plants until the end of the agency's contract, coming up Feb. 28, 2015. But plants not being cared for by the maintenance program are being auctioned off for very little money. The companionship and social integration of the job is key, and hopefully, there will still be a space for these clients.

The Archives program

The agency has a contract with the National Archives of Canada to destroy confidential materials that the Archives found to be outside of their purveyance. For years, documents have been destroyed with about 60 clients with disabilities working with minimal supervision in a three-floor factory. They drive forklifts, sort paper, work industrial shredders and bailers, and do it all without accidents or injuries. About 5,000 tonnes (read as: an incredible amount) of paper and plastic gets recycled there yearly. 

Now, departments are being told that they won't be destroying documents that way as of January 2015. The plan hasn't been revealed yet, but there will still be paper and it still needs to go somewhere and the agency is hoping that the program will be kept going for necessity.

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