Broad-based community task force needed to make recommendations on the renewal of the province’s 125-year-old child protection system, says OPSEU/NUPGE.
Toronto (26 Feb. 2016) — Warren (Smokey) Thomas, President of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU/NUPGE), says the government must consult with child protection workers before taking radical measures to restructure the child protection system.
Premier needs to involve child protection workers in discussions to fix system
In late December, Premier Kathleen Wynne said she was looking at restructuring the Children's Aid Society (CAS) and was even willing to “blow up” the system. But in a letter today to CAS employees represented by OPSEU/NUPGE, Thomas insisted that any solution must begin with constructive dialogue with all stakeholders — especially child protection workers.
“If Kathleen Wynne wants to be bold about fixing the system,” Thomas wrote, “she needs to build it up, not blow it up. And the first step in building it up is to start listening to the province’s dedicated and caring child protection workers.”
Need to address marginalization and poverty, inadequate funding
“Here’s what my members on the front-lines know: first, we need to put some real dollars into direct client service; and second, government needs to address marginalization and poverty, or else some children will always be at greater risk of coming into contact with children’s aid.”
Thomas called for a broad‑based community task force that includes child protection workers, teachers, First Nations advisers, anti-poverty organizations, domestic violence groups, public and mental health workers, and housing advisers to make recommendations on the renewal of the province’s 125-year-old child protection system.
Auditor General identified underfunding and understaffing as root problems
Thomas warned that more restructuring could serve to “camouflage” the need for adequate and sustainable funding. Underfunding and understaffing lie at the root of systemic problems identified by Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk, Thomas stressed.
“If the system requires several hours of travel and paperwork for every one hour of time spent directly with clients, then it’s pretty obvious that the CASs needs to hire more workers to ensure that more time is spent with clients.”
Read Thomas’s letter.
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 360,000 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