“The lack of backfill, inadequate resources and crushing workloads are resulting in children and their families being put at risk. BC's most vulnerable people are falling through the cracks.” — Stephanie Smith, BCGEU President.
Vancouver (08 Aug. 2014) — Over the last two weeks, Stephanie Smith, President of the B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union (BCGEU/NUPGE), visited Prince Rupert, Terrace, Chilliwack and Fort St John to speak with social workers, administrative support staff and community social service workers, concluding the first phase of its Children at Risk campaign.
BCGEU/NUPGE has been meeting with workers in child protection services to assess working conditions and issues to be addressed
“We are hearing a lot of despair. Our members working in B.C.’s child protection system are incredibly dedicated, but they are being asked to do more with less,” says Smith. “The lack of backfill, inadequate resources and crushing workloads are resulting in children and their families being put at risk. BC's most vulnerable people are falling through the cracks.”
Since March, BCGEU/NUPGE has met with over 400 members in 14 meetings across the province. In addition to the four meetings in late July, regional member meetings have been held in Kamloops, Nanaimo, Victoria, Kelowna, Williams Lake, Vernon, Langley, Vancouver, Castlegar, and Prince George.
As the union moves forward with the Children at Risk campaign, it continues to identify and address working conditions and workload issues for those working in the sector. This initial phase involved extensive member consultation: In addition to the regional member meetings, a series of online surveys were sent to BCGEU/NUPGE members working in the Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD), the Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation (MSDSI), and Community Social Services to ask them about current challenges in their work.
In total, more than 1,500 members completed surveys. There was very high response rates: as high as 49% and 52% for the frontline MCFD and MSDSI surveys respectively. These member surveys have provided the union with a measure of the urgency of the issues, and a reflection of members' desire for BCGEU/NUPGE to take action to address the problems in these sectors.
What’s next for the Children at Risk campaign?
In the coming weeks, BCGEU/NUPGE will be compiling and analyzing the information and will report on the findings as well as the union's proposed next steps in September.
In addition to the campaign activity, union representatives on the MCFD Working Group have been meeting regularly since May to exchange issues and bring issues to the Ministry's attention. Topics discussed include staffing, reporting, workplace health and safety, recruitment and retention, and administrative staff issues. A mid-term report on activity is being prepared and will be posted on both the Ministry's intranet, as well as, on the BCGEU/NUPGE website when it is complete. Read the terms of reference for the MCFD group here.
Stay in touch
Many thanks to all who participated in the consultation phase of the Children at Risk campaign. BCGEU/NUPGE encourages members to continue to keep in touch with us: send your emails to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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