Report highlights continued government inaction on Aboriginal child protection; workers bargain for solutions

“The RCY’s report verifies that a lack of reliable or adequate funding continues to fail vulnerable Indigenous children in our province." — Stephanie Smith, BCGEU President

Vancouver (04 April 2017) —  The B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union (BCGEU/NUPGE) applauds the vital work done by the Representative for Children and Youth (RCY) in the report published today, Delegated Aboriginal Agencies: How resourcing affects service delivery. This is the most recent in a succession of investigations going back more than a decade that have verified, time and again, that Indigenous children continue to suffer and fall through the cracks as a result of government inaction.

“The RCY’s report verifies that a lack of reliable or adequate funding continues to fail vulnerable Indigenous children in our province,” said Stephanie Smith, BCGEU President. The BCGEU/NUPGE released its own report, Closing the Circle, in October 2015 calling for major investment in resources, staffing, and cultural training, with better oversight and reporting mechanisms for B.C.’s Aboriginal child welfare system.

The RCY’s report cites an average of 30 cases per social worker at one time, 50 per cent more than is recommended by the Aboriginal Operational and Practice Standards and Indicators (AOPSI).

BCGEU/NUPGE members bargaining for improvements for Indigenous children 

BCGEU/NUPGE members at the Fraser Valley Aboriginal Child and Family Services Society (also known as Xyolhemeylh) — one of B.C.’s 23 Delegated Aboriginal Agencies (DAAs) — are taking action at the bargaining table. At negotiations in early March, members proposed comprehensive contract language that will provide the structure necessary to move to compliance with recognized standards to ensure child safety as quickly as possible. The proposals include reducing caseloads and providing the resources necessary to deliver culturally appropriate services.

“Our member negotiating team is tired of waiting for governments to act while Indigenous children suffer and die. Instead they are seeking solutions at the bargaining table by establishing enforceable standards of practice in their employment contracts,” said Smith.

The negotiating team for members at  Xyolhemeylh wants to work with their employer to formalize recognized standards of practice in their contract in order to address the crisis of capacity they currently face. The 135 workers at Xyolhemeylh joined the BCGEU in October 2016, and this is the first round of negotiations with their employer.

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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