"The government needs to move quickly to support Child Protection workers. We have a good response on paper, but vulnerable kids need to see immediate action. Those on the front lines are doing incredible work, but they are telling us that they need help and change is not happening fast enough." — Jason MacLean, NSGEU President
Halifax (11 Oct. 2017) — The Nova Scotia government is putting the safety of children and families at risk by leaving Child Protection Social Workers over-worked and under-resourced said Jason MacLean, President of the Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union (NSGEU/NUPGE).
"Child Protection Social Workers are responsible for assessing and protecting the safety and well being of kids in need. They need a manageable workload so they have the time and resources to make the right decision for vulnerable children and families," said MacLean. "Management has a responsibility to act. The situation has been urgent for a long time, and data released by the NDP shows the extent of the burnout people are experiencing."
Recently, the NDP released results from a Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy (FOIPOP) request that showed how short term illness leave has increased by 60 per cent since 2013, as workers suffer from burnout and get sick from being overwhelmed and under-supported in the workplace.
On May 9, the NSGEU/NUPGE sent a letter to the government outlining their concerns regarding caseloads/workloads and burnout. In the letter, the NSGEU/NUPGE offered some suggestions on how management might improve the working conditions for members. These suggestions came from frontline workers themselves, who know the services they provide and the needs of their clients.
In its response, the government indicated it is in agreement with a number of these suggestions. These include creating float, intake, and screening teams to assist in addressing caseload/workload management, the timely filling of short term and longer term vacancies, and more occupational health and safety support.
"We are hearing from our members that they are still in crisis," said MacLean. "The government needs to move quickly to support Child Protection workers. We have a good response on paper but vulnerable kids need to see immediate action. Those on the front lines are doing incredible work but they are telling us that they need help and change is not happening fast enough."
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 370,000 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