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Rallying the community and lobbying the provincial government to stand up for fairness for at-risk children and youth in Hamilton, workers from Hamilton Children’s Aid Society (CAS) successfully campaigned to stop shutdown days scheduled at the agency due to continual provincial underfunding of the CAS sector, said the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) representing 249 CAS workers after learning of the provincial government’s decision to provide additional transitional funding of up to one million dollars to the Hamilton agency. 

We are very happy that our agency will remain open for our community’s at-risk children and youth,” said Samantha Florento, president of CUPE 3899. The transitional funding will allow the agency to cancel the remaining four scheduled days and the workers will make up for the hours and services lost due to the first shutdown on October 11.“Our members worked hard to ensure that we stood up for our community’s at-risk children and youth by raising awareness of the impact of the cuts and shutdown on our clients,” said Leanne Slaughter, president of CUPE 3042. 

These shutdowns are the tip of iceberg and we anticipate that other CAS agencies facing similar deficits will be forced to cut services to balance their budgets,” said Fred Hahn, president of CUPE Ontario. “While we are encouraged that the Liberal government provided transitional funding to the Hamilton CAS, there are other agencies across Ontario that need similar and proper funding to ensure at-risk children across the province are taken care of properly.” 

In Hamilton CAS alone, 70 positions were already cut in May, resulting in the closure of the medical dental clinic for children in care, closing of two programs that help keep at-risk families stay united, and the elimination of important services of lawyers, clerks and others. The transitional funding will not reverse the cuts in May or prevent any future cuts.The workers vow to continue to raise awareness of the impact of provincial underfunding and cuts to the CAS sector. “We are calling on the Liberal government to fund the CASs properly so agencies can meet their legislative mandate to protect children,” concluded Hahn. “How can workers do their jobs properly if agencies are not funded properly and are left just to cut and shut down to balance their budgets?” 

CUPE represents over 249 front line CAS workers, including child protection and child and youth care workers, office, clerical and support staff in Hamilton from locals 3042 and 3899. 

For further information, please contact: 

Leanne Slaughter
President of CUPE 3042

Samantha Florento
President of CUPE 3899

James Chai
CUPE Communications