TORONTO – The Ford Conservatives are putting children and families at risk by cutting funding to Children’s Aid Societies and asking frontline workers to do more with less, according to the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE). Child welfare workers, represented by CUPE, were at Queen’s Park today to mark November 20, the National Day of the Child, and to meet with MPPs to discuss the crisis in Ontario’s child welfare system.
The message coming from frontline workers is that cuts to all public service sectors in the province have increased the pressure on CAS agencies who are almost universally facing their own reduced budgets and job loss.
“Programs for group services and family finding, which help people connect to supports within their community and family circle, instead of CAS, have been reduced,” said Noelle Racicot-Kelly a volunteer services coordinator for Oxford CAS in Woodstock and president of CUPE Local 2193. “Compounded by these reductions, our community has struggled with a youth mental health crisis. We have lost too many of our young people to suicide and the youth in our community have voiced that they need help.”
CUPE’s recent consultations with its locals representing child welfare agencies has revealed that nearly every agency in question has reduced frontline staff as a result of government cuts. Workers for many agencies have reported a reduction of services, while others report a downloading of responsibilities onto the shoulders of fewer workers.
“Our members see damage these cuts are causing to children and families firsthand. If a child doesn’t get the proper mental heath treatment, or counselling, because of government cuts, they may end up in the child welfare system because they didn’t get the help they need elsewhere,” Said Carrie Lynn Poole-Cotnam, chair of CUPE’s Social Services Workers Coordinating Committee. “With child welfare agencies cutting programs and staff, children can fall through the cracks even further, ending up in the criminal justice system, or worse. We are bringing stories from our communities to the people who can do something about the crisis facing children and families in Ontario.”
CUPE members were joined by NDP MPP Monique Taylor, the Opposition critic for Child and Youth Services.
For more information:
Matthew Stella, CUPE Communications, 613-252-4377