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October 12, 2013 permalink
Hamilton CAS workers are complaining of cuts. As usual, they claim it is the children who will be harmed by cutbacks to child snatching.
Hamilton CAS workers protest cuts that ‘hurt’ children
They said it many different ways.
But the message delivered by Hamilton Children's Aid Society workers Friday was clear. They feel government cuts to their agency are hurting Hamilton's most vulnerable children. About 100 of the CAS staff and their supporters gathered Friday outside their Hamilton headquarters to protest a budget-driven shutdown.
The Hamilton Children's Aid Society has scheduled five days of shutdowns this year to cope with provincial funding cuts.
The CAS already cut 70 staff in June who deliver front-line services for at-risk children and youth in Hamilton, said Leanne Slaughter, president of CUPE 3042. That was about 20 per cent of the agency's staff.
The union says it has also been told further cuts of $491,000 in 2013-14, $444,000 in 2014-15 and $2 million in 2015-16 will be needed to balance the books over the next three years.
"We're here to show the government this isn't working," said Samantha Florento, president of CUPE 3899. "We should be out helping families and children in our care."
"How can we be the eyes and ears protecting children in the community?" she added. "We'd rather be working."
Florento said the shutdown means home visits, family court hearings and medical appointments were all cancelled Friday. Five staff remained on the job to handle emergency calls, she said.
There are currently about 249 staff in two CUPE locals working at the CAS offices on Arrowsmith Road.
Dominic Verticcio, executive director of the Hamilton CAS, said the agency is caught between "a rock and a hard place."
"Our commitment is not to lay off any more staff," he said. "That is not good for our staff or our community."
Verticcio said the cost savings involved in giving staff five unpaid days off will balance the budget for this year.
He said the Friday before a long weekend was picked so the Friday staffing would be similar to staffing the remainder of the long weekend, causing the least amount of disruption to staff and clients.
Slaughter said Friday's gathering wasn't about the union, but was about doing what's right for the children of Hamilton.
"We cannot allow (these cuts) to continue," she said. "We hope the government will realize the value of these children as they are our future."
The Hamilton Catholic Children's Aid Society also laid off 10 of 185 employees this year due to a 2 per cent funding reduction from the province. The cut positions included building maintenance, human resources, community outreach and administrative services. No front-line workers have been affected.
Source: Hamilton Spectator