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York Children Safe! (for now)

August 29, 2007 permalink

Children in York Region are safe, at least temporarily, owing to a strike by Children's Aid workers. They are not rewarded enough for putting up with the emotional trauma of breaking up families.



Front-line CAS workers walk out

Striking OPSEU workers
Bill Roberts photo
Striking OPSEU workers picket outside CAS offices in Newmarket Monday.

Picket lines went up at Children's Aid Society offices across York Region this morning.

The strike, by 180 members of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union - Local 304, is a first. While front-line workers staged a one-day walkout in the early 1990s, today marks the first official strike at for the agency.

With 450 children under care, 950 families being served and 300 investigations underway, Children Aid Society officials insist there's a solid 24-7 backup plan in place tending to their clients' needs.

However, local union president Lisa Maynard said there will be some disruption of services now that the union members rejected the employer's last position on wages, workload and mileage.

Still, the York CAS executive director Martin McNamara said he is confident he can look after the needs of the children and the families. Of the local CAS's 64 non-union workers, 35 are providing direct service to children and families during the strike.

"The 35 are former front-line workers," Mr. McNamara said. "They know the work."

The union president defends the right to strike.

"The caseloads (in York Region) are heavier than most," Ms Maynard said. "Workers are leaving right, left and centre. We want to stop this revolving door situation once and for all."

The most recent contract between OPSU and the Children's Aid Society expired at the end of March.

Ontario's 62 Children's Aid Societies are non-profit organizations mandated by the Child and Family Services Act to investigate allegations or evidence that children under the 16 may be in need of protection and to protect children when necessary.