Breaking through barriers for workers
who have children with special needs

Our History

History of the Special Needs and Moving On Projects

1989: A joint CUPW-Canada Post survey of the child care needs of postal workers finds that parents of children with special needs have the most challenges.

1991: CUPW negotiates a jointly administered child care fund with Canada Post (Appendix L of the collective agreement). The fund is capped at $2 million and the employer puts $200,000 into the fund every three months. The fund can be used for projects on child care services for postal worker families, information and research. However, management and the union have difficulty agreeing on any projects.

1995: CUPW negotiates sole administrative control of the Child Care Fund.

1996: Through the Child Care Fund, the union sponsors a study, In Our Way, that looks at the workforce barriers for parents of children with special needs. It is the first research of its kind in Canada and Québec. The study recommends that the union set up a pilot program for CUPW parents of children with special needs.

February, 1996: The union produces the Child Care Fund video, Juggling with Care, which contains segments about families who have children with special needs. The video discussion guide features sections on the stresses and workplace issues around having a child with special needs.

Summer, 1996: The union puts in place the 1996 Special Needs Summer Project, designed in collaboration with SpeciaLink: The National Centre for Child Care Inclusion. The pilot draws the participation of 105 members.

Fall, 1996: The pilot project becomes a permanent, year-round project intended to help reduce the financial, emotional and physical stresses of CUPW families of children with special needs. It is administered for CUPW by SpeciaLink.

May, 1997: Child Care Now!, CUPW's 5-day child care course, is held at Port Elgin for the first time. The course contains a component on children with special needs, and a significant number of course participants are parents who use the Special Needs Project. New understanding and strong connections are forged during the course by those who have children with special needs and other parents. This bonding occurs each subsequent time the course is held.

June, 1999: The Key to Caring, another video, features three of the union's child care projects, including the Special Needs Project.

2000: The Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC), on behalf of its component, the Union of Postal Communications Employees (UPCE), negotiates a child care fund with Canada Post. UPCE-PSAC and CUPW sign an agreement that CUPW will administer the Child Care Fund. CUPW makes the Special Needs Project and other projects under the CUPW Child Care Fund accessible to UPCE members working for Canada Post.

2000: The union prepares a package of educational material on what it's like to work and have a child with special needs. The package includes a poster and quiz, and is for locals to use on the shop floor.

2002: Family Place Resource Centre, a federally funded, non-profit organization, becomes the administrator of the Special Needs Project. A staff of three administers the day-to-day operations of the project out of an office in Baddeck, Nova Scotia.

2002: The book, Moving Mountains: Work, Family and Children with Special Needs, is published and widely distributed. The book showcases the stories of families who are using the Special Needs Project.

CUPW wins the 2002-2003 ISO Families Award, given by the Quebec government's Council on the Status of Women, for the work the union is doing on the Child Care Fund to help parents balance work and family life.

2003: The union negotiates improvements to the Child Care Fund. The fund's coverage is expanded to include CUPW members with dependent adult sons and daughters with special needs, and members who provide primary residential and financial support for their grandchildren. The fund is capped at $2.5 million, with the employer's contribution increasing to $300,000 every three months.

2003: The Special Needs Project wins the Rosemarie Popham Award. The award recognizes exceptional contributions made to advocacy and social policy development on behalf of children and families. The award is presented by Family Service Canada.

2005: The union introduces the Moving On Project to provide information, resources and financial support for families who have dependent adult sons and daughters with disabilities. The project helps families whose children with special needs are transitioning into adulthood, and who find that many programs or supports will no longer be available when their sons or daughters turn 19.

2005: The union produces a new poster, Breaking through barriers, on the Special Needs and Moving On projects. The poster wins a Canadian Association of Labour Media (CALM) award.

2005: CUPW negotiates access to the Child Care Fund and all of its projects for Rural and Suburban Mail Carriers in the RSMC collective agreement..

2006-2007: The Special Needs Project surpasses its first decade. The union negotiates cost-of-living increases to the Child Care Fund to ensure that the projects will continue to grow and be available to the members. By 2010, Canada Post will make quarterly deposits of $324,000 into the fund..