“When you take away those dollars in the name of austerity and deficit-busting, a child and their family are negatively impacted. Is this the sort of legacy our government has chosen to adopt?” - OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas.
Toronto (20 Nov. 2012) - On a day that should be celebrated for achievements made in child protection and treatment, Ontario is shortchanging its most vulnerable young people by failing to provide adequate funding for their needs, says the President of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU/NUPGE).
“Today, November 20, is National Child Day across Canada,” said OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas. “But the track record here in Ontario is one marked by a funding shortfall, cutbacks in services and insufficient staff levels to meet the growing demand for child protection and treatment.”
In 1993, the federal government designated November 20 of each year as National Child Day to promote awareness of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) which spells out the basic rights under which children everywhere are entitled to: the right to survival; to develop to the fullest; to protection from harmful influences, abuse and exploitation; and to participate fully in family, cultural and social life. In ratifying that decision, Canada promised children the right to be free of harm and to live and grow to their full potential.
This year alone, Ontario faces a $42 million funding shortfall to the Children's Aid Society (CAS). To balance their budgets local agencies are forced to cut staff and programming at many CAS locations.
OPSEU/NUPGE, which represents more than 6,000 workers with the CAS and other child treatment agencies, is marking National Child Day by organizing noon hour “block walks” and other activities that will draw attention to the province’s neglect of the needs of vulnerable children and their families. The public will be asked to sign postcards to the Minister of Children and Youth Services, Laurel Broten, demanding that Queen’s Park restore funding in order to protect and restore programs at risk.
The problem is particularly severe in Waterloo Region where the local CAS has been forced to eliminate almost 30 staff positions in order to cover a $2.5 million deficit.
“What our government doesn’t seem to understand or chooses to willfully ignore is that behind those dollar figures are real children facing real mental, social and physical challenges in their lives,” said Thomas. “When you take away those dollars in the name of austerity and deficit-busting a child and their family are negatively impacted. Is this the sort of legacy our government has chosen to adopt?”
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE