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BROCKVILLE, ON – Nearly a year and half after the merger of the Lanark and Leeds/Grenville child welfare agencies, the goodwill and commitment extended by front line staff to ensure the amalgamation succeeds, is being tested and severely strained, says Mike Burt, president of Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) 2577.

Although transitional funding from the province has been made available to the new agency, now called Family and Children’s Services of Lanark, Leeds and Grenville, much of the money has been spent on consultants, new furniture and TVs, not on human services, says Burt. All the while initiatives intended to cut residential costs related to children in care, have resulted in children being displaced unnecessarily from long-term, stable home settings and increased costs.

There is also a push by the administration, says Burt, for less oversight to determine high caseloads, a process front line staff believe helps them keep vulnerable children safer. Currently a joint employer and union workload committee reviews, investigates and problem solves around workload issues. This process ensures child protection staff have the time to deal effectively with families and children in crisis.

At the start of the merger process we made a commitment that we would work cooperatively with the new administration provided that services and support were maintained. We’ve kept that bargain. But our goodwill is waning and we will not agree to diminish safeguards we know allow us to better protect children.

It’s time for our new administration to strengthen services and support front line staff by investing transition funding on human services,” says Burt.

When board members of Family and Children’s Services of Lanark, Leeds and Grenville meet January 22, CUPE 2577 will be outside the meeting, urging them to use their influence to ensure fairness in the workplace and stability in services as the merger continues for a few more years. The board meets in Perth at 8 Herriott Street at 6 p.m. and Brockville at 438 Laurier Avenue at 6 p.m.

For more information please contact:

Mike Burt                   
President CUPE 2577                           

Stella Yeadon            
CUPE Communications