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October 25, 2013 permalink
The Ministry of Children and Youth Services is auditing overspending at the London and Middlesex Children’s Aid Society.
Ministry stepping in because London-area agency can’t balance its books
The Ontario ministry that funds it has put the budget for London’s child-welfare agency “under review.”
The London and Middlesex Children’s Aid Society can’t balance its books, triggering the move by Children and Youth Services.
“A team from the ministry will work with the CAS to find areas where we can find efficiencies, work better and channel resources to see where they need to be,” said ministry spokesperson Nauman Khan.
The review will begin early next month and could take about three weeks.
“We will see what areas the review identified, where there can be improvements. It is still very early,” said Khan.
In an e-mail response, CAS management said “we do welcome the opportunity to work collaboratively with the ministry through this financial review.”
The agency must cut $4.6 million this year, and reduce its $70-million budget to $55 million by 2018. It’s cut 40 staff, or 10% of its total, between union and management ranks.
But as funding shrank, the CAS board approved wage hikes for senior managers. Its list of bosses paid $100,000 or more grew to 22 in 2012 from 19 the year before, and all made more money.
Jane Fitzgerald, the agency’s executive director, is Ontario’s highest-paid child-welfare agency boss. She received a $26,000 hike this year, pushing her pay to $212,717.
Wages paid and staffing levels will be part of the review, said Khan.
Workers at the CAS say they welcome the review, hoping the ministry realizes it can’t slash the budget.
“I don’t think they can balance the budget and protect children,” said Karen Cudmore of Ontario Public Service Employees Union Local 116
The union also wants the review to look at management wages, staff levels and where managers work, she added.
“I hope they look at the number of managers and those who do not do direct service . . . I think there is a fundamental problem.”
Cudmore has questioned staffing in areas where employees don’t work with children, such as human resources, and costs such as the agency changing offices between Dundas and Oxford street locations. That’s meant some staff have to work from home for as long as six weeks.
“They are reorganizing everyone, rearranging all the teams and service models — people are overwhelmed here,” she said.
Source: London Free Press