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TORONTO, Ont. – On November 20, National Day of the Child, Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) members across the province will shed light on the latest round of Ontario Liberal government cutbacks to child welfare, placing vulnerable children and youth further at risk and less likely to get the services and supports they need.
Front-line children’s aid workers in Ontario will wear a blue ribbon to mark the anniversary of the adoption of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. In ratifying that decision, Canada promised children the right to be free of harm and to live and grow to their full potential.
“The decision to cut services to children and youth in an already under-resourced sector, with kids and families struggling with huge and growing challenges, is a recipe for tragedy. What will it take for this government to invest in the safety and wellbeing of children and youth?” says CUPE Ontario President Fred Hahn.
The provincial government has cut over $42 million dollars in funding to the child welfare sector for 2012-2013, resulting in group home closures, reduced staffing levels and cuts to services and supports that help protect and care for at-risk children and youth in Ontario.
Inequality in Ontario has deepened and families are suffering. Chronic provincial underfunding by the government has meant Children’s Aid Societies (CAS) do not have the resources they need to meet their legislative mandate to protect children. Under the Child and Family Services Act, child welfare agencies are mandated under law to protect children. Agencies providing services to First Nations and Aboriginal communities have even greater challenges as provincial funding falls far below what is needed to provide services and supports to high-risk and remote communities.
“When it comes to protecting kids, prevention is crucial, adds Hahn. And yet, supports and programs that help to prevent abuse and neglect are often the first to be lost when agencies are forced to make cuts. The lack of early intervention due to insufficient resources causes problems to escalate within the family, costing more in the long run, both to families and the system.”
Further government funding cutbacks mean that child welfare agencies across the province are forced to make cuts to abuse prevention programs, counseling services for youth and families, visits to kids in residential and foster care and programs for families in crisis.
“Unless the government fulfills its obligation to adequately fund child welfare agencies, CAS will not be able to meet the legislated mandates under the Act. Ontario’s children and youth must not be made to pay with their safety, says Hahn. We have a responsibility to demand that the provincial government take seriously its mandate to protect children and invest the necessary funding in child welfare services,” Hahn added.
“It is time the Liberal government started creating solutions instead of playing with our children’s futures. They have created chaos in our schools with their attacks on support staff’s democratic rights. They have cut millions of dollars to direct supports protecting kids. And they have mounted a campaign that is hurting workers, hurting the economy and, increasingly, hurting children,” he concluded.
Marjorie Savoie, CUPE Communications: (613) 864-9924