(WINDSOR, ON) – The president of the union representing workers at the Windsor-Essex Children’s Aid Society is calling recently announced cuts to the agency, “… a move that will only do further harm to an already vulnerable population in our community.”
Craig Hesman, president of Local 2286 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees, which represents 350 Windsor-Essex Children’s Aid Society workers, expressed his disappointment about 12 pending layoffs and the elimination of 23 positions in total.
“This is an already short-staffed and underfunded agency,” Hesman said. “The need for child protection services is on the rise in Windsor and Essex County and across the province. We should be raising staffing and service levels to meet those needs instead of making children and families in our community suffer.”
According to the Union, many of the cuts are to positions which make Windsor-Essex Children’s Aid Society more effective in assessing which children are in need of agency care.
“We are losing people who are doing some of our most valuable work, whose roles include assessing if it is appropriate to bring children into care, and educating children to recognize behaviours in their homes that might be a cause for concern,” added Hesman
Some of the workers on the job chopping block assist in sustaining families and protecting children through situations of high stress and reduce the incidence of admissions into the Society’s care. CUPE says these admission reductions are cost savings to the agency.
The union also expressed its surprise at the timing of the announcement. Hesman said CUPE was surprised by the layoffs at a time at which it was hoping to see staffing and service increases. He has called for the Ontario government to take immediate action to address the cuts.
Carrie Lynn Poole-Cotham, chair of CUPE Ontario’s Social Services Committee, is also concerned about the situation.
“The fact of the matter is, if we need more people on the front lines to strengthen preventative programs for families and protect children in our communities, then we need to talk about funding,” Poole-Cotham said.
At this point the CAS has not issued a statement on the lay-offs.
“Ministry of Children and Youth Services is currently conducting another funding formula review due to the current flawed model” said Poole-Cotham. “However, the Windsor-Essex Children’s Aid Society is cutting staff in advance of even having their funding allocations confirmed from the province. This is a premature decision. We need transparency on funding and spending within the agency. It is time for the province to address how to properly fund these services.”