Press one of the expand buttons to see the full text of an article. Later press collapse to revert to the original form. The buttons below expand or collapse all articles.
Big Chill / Widespread Anxiety
October 23, 2010 permalink
The employees of Huron-Perth CAS are feeling anxiety over their future, anxiety that is spreading to other children's aid societies across the province. Sooner or later layoffs have to happen to a profession that does a job with almost no utility.
Big Chill in Ontario Child Welfare
The imposition of a provincial supervisor on the Huron-Perth Children's Aid Society (CAS) by the Minister for Children and Youth Services (MCYS), and the recent removal of the agency executive director and governance board, is creating a 'big chill' and "widespread anxiety" in Ontario's child welfare sector, warns the union representing 100 front line CAS staff at the local agency.
The scenario playing out with the provincially-appointed supervisor in Huron-Perth "is a message—a warning—to the rest of the CASs across the province from the minister: 'make cuts, bring down your deficit' or you too will get a supervisor imposed," says Lucille Charron, the president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) 1427.
Recently, the Huron-Perth board and director came out publicly saying they refused to cut programs and services to deal with the agency's nearly $2.1 million deficit because of the detrimental impact on services. They also announced the agency would close mid-December.
When ministry supervisors have been imposed in other sectors like education, they were put in place by the minister to find and carry out cost-cutting to deal with deficits.
There is widespread concern among the CAS members CUPE represents province-wide that the Liberal government is backtracking on funding programs and services that support their own 2006 changes to child welfare legislation. The legislation, intended to achieve better outcomes for children and families, including keeping kids out of care and with their families in their communities, is working and has widespread support in the sector.
Child welfare agencies across Ontario are reeling with deficits resulting from years of flawed provincial funding that has not been adequate to support the 2006 legislative changes. As a result, 37 CASs are in deficit. Eleven agencies are taking the province to court through a judicial review of their funding levels to ensure that the ministry's funding decisions are compliant with the law. "So, this process is cost-driven—when it should be driven by what is in the best interest of the child and, whenever possible, keeping them with their families. And, this is an enormous concern for our members who are committed to doing the best they can to protect children and keep them safe," says Charron.
MCYS minister Laurel Broten has stated publicly that she "will not allow kids to be put at risk."
"We intend to hold the minister and our local MPPs accountable for that statement. The Minister says she stepped in last week to appoint a supervisor to deal with the agency's 'financial challenges'. But there is great anxiety about what this will mean for maintaining the services that families in Huron-Perth rely on. We are very concerned about the impacts cuts will have on services and ensuring children and their families are adequately supported," says Charron.