"It's morally reprehensible to cut funding from community services, but it’s also stupid public policy. We're spending more later to solve the problems we're creating today," says NUPGE National President James Clancy.
Ottawa (15 Dec. 2015) — Community service workers from across the country are gearing up for a major public awareness and political lobbying campaign in the new year. Energized during a recent conference on the profound challenges facing community services, workers in the sector from coast to coast are committed to action.
"The workers at the conference are all on the front lines and they see first-hand every day just how unhealthy our communities have become," says James Clancy, National President of NUPGE. "Homelessness. Hopelessness. Addiction. Despair. People need help, but there's less and less help available."
Community Service Workers Conference report outlines challenges
A just-published report on the conference details a number of challenges bedevilling community services, including
- Funding cuts: Canada now spends less on community services than almost every other OECD country in the world.
- Lack of awareness: Many Canadians misunderstand community services, assuming the term means "welfare payments" and nothing more. That misunderstanding sets the stage for funding cuts.
- Privatization: Corporations and unaccountable charities are being asked to provide more and more services; competition is leading them to cut corners.
- Worker sacrifice: Workers in the sector are stretching themselves to the breaking point in order to provide good services despite funding cuts and privatization.
"What defines the sector right now is this fundamental question: Where is the money?" says Clancy. "It's morally reprehensible to cut funding from community services, but it’s also stupid public policy. We're spending more later to solve the problems we're creating today."
Escalating actions and events
In order to turn the situation around, participants at the conference agreed that they will participate in a series of escalating actions and events throughout 2016 in order to raise public awareness of the issues and to push politicians to mount meaningful reforms.
"It boils down to this: Can we work together despite all our differences?" asked Clancy during the conference. "If we can do that, we’ve got power. The power to do good."
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