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Missing Food Located

December 6, 2012 permalink

Alert reporters from the Toronto Sun have tracked down what happens to the food that does not make it to the foster kid's dinner plate [1] [2] [3]. It has been found at a posh professional development function for social workers at Toronto's Grand Hotel.



Cash-strapped child welfare sector puts out a nice spread at conference

Grand Hotel, Toronto
The Grand Hotel on Jarvis St. in Toronto.
Craig Robertson/ Toronto Sun

TORONTO - Chicken, beef, pasta, veggies and cakes of all sizes.

These were just some of the delights enjoyed by officials from Ontario’s cash-strapped child-welfare sector at a publicly-funded professional-development function at a fancy downtown Toronto hotel on Monday, according to a source who was at the event.

“They were complaining that there was no money from the government, but at the same time ... there was so much food, and most of it wasn’t even eaten,” said the source.

The event, hosted at the Grand Hotel, was spearheaded by Central Toronto Youth Services (CTYS) and paid for by Ontario’s Ministry of Children and Youth Services, CTYS executive director Heather Sproule told the Toronto Sun Wednesday.

The event, a leadership-development conference, featured a paid appearance by management consultant Margaret Wheatley and was a “valuable learning opportunity” for those officials from the child-welfare and child-and-youth services sectors who attended, Sproule said.

But Sproule would not divulge the cost of the event, Wheatley’s fee or the bill for the food and hotel.

“We decided ... to make the conference as efficient and economical as possible, so we brought a lot of people together in one location,” said Sproule, who said it was up to the ministry to divulge cost and budget of the event.

However, she was confident the cost was “in line” with that of other conferences of its kind.

As far as food goes, Sproule said a “typical continental breakfast” and a “typical lunch” was served to the 125 officials who attended the event free of charge.

Questions about the event put forth to the ministry were not answered.

Those in attendance included officials from the Children’s Aid Society of Toronto and Youth Assisting Youth (YAY), as well as others. Officials from these two organizations, however, refused to give details about the event when contacted by the Toronto Sun.

Children’s Aid Society of Toronto spokesman Rob Thompson refused to give the name of the official who went on behalf of that organization. And an official from Youth Assisting Youth — who did not want his name published — refused to talk about the event out of fear it would jeopardize the organization’s funding from the province.

Child-welfare organizations across the province have been claiming to be cash strapped after the Ontario government announced it would make over $40 million in funding cuts to the child-welfare sector for 2012-2013 as part of its bid to tackle a $15 billion deficit.

Source: Toronto Sun

The next day two ministries committed more indulgence (and took more meals from hungry foster kids). Nobody would answer questions about the source of funding for the feast. One instructive comment follows the article.



Cash-strapped ministries serve themselves a feast

feast for social services
Ontario's social services ministry enjoy a turkey dinner, part of a professional development and staff recognition day at the Mississauga Living Arts Centre on Thursday.
Dave Abel/Toronto Sun

MISSISSAUGA - Two social welfare ministries in Ontario’s cash-strapped government treated staff to a day of bountiful eating, awards and a talk from an internationally best-selling author on Thursday.

Around 200 staff from the Ministry of Children and Youth Services and the Ministry of Community and Social Services gathered at the sprawling Living Arts Centre in Mississauga for a day-long event that included breakfast, an elaborate lunch, speeches and awards — all part of an employee appreciation day.

Those in attendance were treated to a breakfast menu that included fresh juices, yogurt, berries and melon, multigrain bagels with cream cheese and fruit preserves alongside “freshly-brewed coffee” and tea.

Around midday, staffers tucked into a “Christmas lunch” of turkey with gravy, apple stuffing, California mixed greens, rosemary-scented potatoes, rolls, cheesecake and raspberry coulis.

Coffee, juice and soft drinks were available throughout the event, and those in attendance were catered to by a banquet staff of at least 14 — most of whom were sharply dressed in bow ties, dress shirts and jet-black vests.

Thursday’s event comes less than a week after one of these ministries — the Ministry of Children and Youth Services — paid for an elaborate luncheon for officials from the province’s child-welfare sector — a sector that has been claiming to be strapped for cash since the Ontario Liberals cut over $40 million in funding to child welfare services earlier this year as part of its effort to tackle a $14 billion deficit.

Featured on Thursday was a guest speech by author Neil Pasricha, who wrote the bestselling feel-good book The Book of Awesome.

Vince Tedesco, a regional director for the Ministry of Child and Youth Services, told the Toronto Sun it was a day to recognize the efforts of certain staffers.

“This is to celebrate staff achievements and accomplishments in their work,” said Tedesco, who, when asked who was paying for the day’s festivities, abruptly ended the interview. “This is an event that helps celebrate achievements ... I don’t have any other comment,” he said before sitting back down at his table.

Bill, an employee with the Ministry of Community and Social Services, told the Sun from his seat at table 19 he had paid nothing to attend.

“Nobody has asked me for money,” he said with a laugh. “If they did, I wouldn’t be here.”

Questions posed to both ministries — such as what the event cost, who paid for it and the amount Pasricha was paid for speaking, for example — were not answered.

Source: Toronto Sun

[A user comment attached to the Sun website]

Closetothesource December 8

Here's what is missing from that article:

  1. Attendance by staff was mandatory. Many staff have expressed dislike for this event every year and still management continue this ego stroke for their own purposes.
  2. Any awards given to staff are not cash, only mere tokens of little value.
  3. There is no hiring of replacement staff during this event, work is simply not done until they return to their offices (which is supposed to be later that day).
  4. Events like this are mere pittance compared to the $30,000,000 the managers handed out to themselves in bonuses to and admittedly over staffed management team.

Placing the blame on the workers here is misguided at best. It's easy to point the finger at them when they have decent job security, pay and benefits, but the real problems start at queens park and are multiplied through middle and upper management.

Eliminate the salary and bonuses of redundant managers and they wings need to slash from the programs or cut much staff. And they have cut tons of staff over the last two years already, placing unrealistic workloads on an already over burdened front line workforce.

Addendum: A month later, the ministry drags its feet about disclosing the source of funding. Letter from Cate Parker to Chris Carter (pdf).