WINDSOR, Ont. – After learning that 18 case aides and family access workers are being terminated due to downsizing at the Windsor-Essex Children’s Aid Society, the president of Local 2286 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) is warning families and the community about the negative impact of the cuts, and the cumulative damage that chronic underfunding is having on child protection services in Windsor and Essex County, and across the province.
“Cutting these vital services to deal with budget shortfalls is really shortchanging the people of Windsor and Essex County, and especially vulnerable children in our community,” said Cathy Matthe, CUPE 2286 president. “Windsor-Essex CAS is saddled with a 4.3 million dollar deficit for 2012-2013, with 1.6 million in historic debt. Across the province, there is a 67 million dollar shortfall in funding, and for our agency that meant getting a line of credit to provide mandated services – the Ontario government is essentially starving our system with underfunding.”
“Underfunding has already had an impact on children, including the loss of services like orthodontics, psychological services, food vouchers and cuts to programs like March break camps and recreational activities. The reduction in the family visitation program from a seven day a week program to five days a week and no holidays will mean these children won’t even be able to go home for Christmas, and will have to miss school to visit their families – haven’t they lost enough?” said Matthe. “These cuts, on top of the cumulative impact of previous cuts, are seriously undermining our preventative interventions and family preservation services, putting more children at risk, which will limit our ability to keep families intact.”
CUPE represents 350 employees at the agency, including child protection, family well-being, kinship services, public relations, administrative support, and other children and family services workers. The latest round of cuts could be just the beginning, as funding allocations for the next fiscal year have not been announced yet, and any shortfall could mean future layoffs.
“Chronic underfunding has led to a frustrating shell game,” said Matthe. “Shuffling duties and workers around without addressing the funding problem is not doing anybody any good, especially not the children and families who rely on our services. That’s why we are calling on voters and families in our community to contact the Liberal government, their MPP and the Minister of Children and Youth Services, Teresa Piruzza, to tell them it’s time to fix chronic underfunding that hurts communities like Windsor-Essex especially hard. Tell them it’s time to invest in Windsor-Essex CAS, so we can keep kids safe.”
For further information, please contact:
Cathy Matthe, President of CUPE 2286: 519-996-4438
Joel Bentley, CUPE National Representative: 519-966-9595
Robert Lamoureux, CUPE Communications: 905-739-3999