Women and men working in child care, child protection and family services and community agencies, will gather at Queen’s Park to offer blue ribbons to MPPs on National Child Day (November 20).
The ribbons are a universal symbol of National Child Day and are meant as a reminder to MPPs of the Ontario government’s failure to properly fund services for vulnerable children and at-risk youth.
The event is organized by members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) who work in agencies and workplaces that serve children and youth. They are raising awareness of the impact of government funding cuts on the programs that protect children and young people and calling on MPPs to advocate for adequate funding for children and youth services.
“We are here to remind MPPs that, when Canada ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1991, it committed us to uphold the basic human rights of children and youth,” said Aubrey Gonsalves, President of CUPE 2316, which represents workers at Toronto Children’s Aid.
“But CUPE members witness firsthand the ways that Ontario is failing to honour that commitment. We work closely with vulnerable children and at-risk youth every day and we see the results of funding cuts, services cuts, and staff reductions.
“Government cutbacks are hurting children, their families and our communities.”
In 2008, the Ontario government promised to reduce child poverty by 25 per cent by 2013. But subsequent, austerity budgets and cuts to programs and services for young people have put the province further behind than ever.
CUPE members point out some of the consequences of underfunded services for children and youth:
- 393,000 children living in poverty in Ontario, or one child in every seven (Campaign 2000)
- Of the 412,998 individuals who used Ontario food banks in March 2012, 159,918 were children (Ontario Food Banks, 2013)
- 9,600 families on the waiting list for the program that provides funding for families caring for children with developmental or physical disabilities (Ontario Auditor General’s report, 2011)
- Up to 795,000 children and youth need mental health services in Ontario, but only onein four will receive treatment; the average delay is 12 months.(Partners for Mental Health)
- The $50.6 million provincial funding shortfall for children’s aid societies is forcing cuts to services and supports that help prevent abuse and neglect (CUPE)
- Nearly 70 per cent of mothers with children under the age of five are working, but there are only enough regulated spaces for about 19 per cent of children aged zero to 12 months (CUPE)
“We are calling on all Ontario MPPs to honour Canada’s commitment to children by properly funding the services that support children and ensure that they are safe, healthy and live to their potential,” said Gonsalves.
Interview and photo opportunities, Queen’s Park, November 20, 2013:
4.00 p.m.: photo, CUPE social services workers, Queen’s Park steps
For more information, please contact:
Aubrey Gonsalves, President, CUPE 2316, 416-294-7807
Mary Unan, CUPE Communications, 416-579-9701