Having this specialized unit is so crucial to ensuring the wellbeing of infants in care. It is more and more difficult to live by our motto of ‘put kids first’ when the government’s constant cuts to funding and services continue to put them last." — Chrisy Tremblay, OPSEU Region 4 Executive Board Member
Ottawa (29 May 2017) — Members of Local 454 of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU/NUPGE) will host a news conference Tuesday to demand that the Ottawa Children’s Aid Society (CAS) reinstate its recently disbanded pre/postnatal care unit.
“It’s unconscionable that Ottawa CAS is cutting this program,” said Warren (Smokey) Thomas, OPSEU President. “Especially considering inquests into the deaths of infants in care have specifically recommended that pre/post natal programs be implemented at CASs.”
Ontario government shuts down infant care unit
A 2014 inquest following the tragic death of Jeffrey Baldwin, a Toronto 5-year old, explicitly called for increased specialized services for infants to prevent another fatality.
Workers on pre/post-natal teams are trained to identify risk factors unique to vulnerable infants, and have developed relationships with community partners, such as St. Mary's Home, Public Health, and local hospitals.
“The erosion of community supports and preventative programs by Ottawa CAS is extremely troubling,” said Chrisy Tremblay, OPSEU Region 4, Executive Board Member. “The pre/postnatal team had specialized skills to deal with the unique needs of infants of struggling parents. Having this specialized unit is so crucial to ensuring the wellbeing of infants in care. It is more and more difficult to live by our motto of ‘put kids first’ when the government’s constant cuts to funding and services continue to put them last."
“These cuts will leave infants at increased risks of harm. How can anyone justify doing this to children?"
Pre/postnatal team still needed to care for vulnerable children
A main concern of Ottawa CAS workers is that the cuts to pre/post-natal programming appear to have been made with “little to no consideration,” said Tremblay. “The unit was disbanded in part due to the recent retirement of the supervisor, which does not indicate in any way that the team was not needed.”
Tremblay will speak at the news conference, joined by Michele Thorn, President of OPSEU Local 454,Shaun Reid, President of OPSEU Local 474 and Pam Parent of Local 464.
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