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One Less CAS

August 25, 2010 permalink

Ontario will have one less children's aid society, through the merger of two northern agencies.



Bill Leonard and Bob McGreevy
Representatives for Kenora-Patricia and Rainy River discussed their plans for merging services Thursday at Cameron Bay. Bill Leonard, the executive director for Kenora-Patricia Child and Family Services, joined with Bob McGreevy, president of the board of directors for Family and Children Services of the Rainy River District, hoped to save about $400,000 a year while improving services for children and avoiding layoffs.
Photo by Mike Aiken

Province approves children’s aid merger

Posted By By Mike Aiken, August 24, 2010

Joining children's aid in Kenora-Patricia with Rainy River will cost just over $900,000 by April 1, but could save about $400,000 a year, once completed. It may also result in some improved services without layoffs.

This was the rosy scenario put forward by Bill Leonard, executive director for Kenora-Patricia Child and Family Services, as well as Bob McGreevy, president of the board of directors for Family and Children Services of the Rainy River District, during Thursday morning's news conference announcing the amalgamation of the two agencies.

Because the two agencies volunteered to merge, the spokesmen said Queen's Park has agreed to maintain their total budget allocation of about $17 million — $12 million for Kenora-Patricia, $3 million for Rainy River child welfare and $2 million for Rainy River mental health — along with most of their staff of about 250 full-time and roughly 100 casual positions.

"We wanted to maintain as much control as possible," McGreevy said, during the press conference.

The savings would come mainly through the reduction in senior management positions, Leonard agreed. For example, the new agency would only have one executive director, which would be Leonard.

About half the one-time costs — an estimated $400,000 — would be from labour issues, because there are different unions involved in the talks. If the negotiations go "swimmingly," then those costs could be less, Leonard added.

The new agency, which has yet to be named, would have about 250 children in care. The improvements in service could come through the extension of services from the Kenora area to the Fort Frances area, such as residential care.

Over the last year, the Ministry of Family and Children's Services has been working hard to find ways of reducing spiraling spending. The ministry's commission created to help resolve funding issues has toured the province, and it is strongly recommending mergers among the 53 children's aid societies in Ontario.

Within a decade, the ministry's budget tripled from $500 million to about $1.4 billion. Locally, there have been significant deficits reported.

Those affected included Anishinabe Abinoojii Family Services and Weechiitewin in Treaty 3, who were looking to cover shortfalls of about $900,000 and $940,000 respectively.

Last fall, Rainy River Family Services predicted a $600,000 shortfall, and Tikanagan Family Services in Nishnawbe Aski Nation was looking at a deficit of roughly $2.1 million last fall.

During this time, the total deficit for the province's 53 agencies was estimated at about $67 million.

Source: Kenora Daily Miner and News