Moose Factory, ON … Communities across Hudson and James Bay are worried and don’t understand why Ontario’s Minister of Child and Youth Services is staying silent in the face of a rapidly approaching December14 deadline for the forced closure of the Payukotayno James & Hudson Bay Family Services which provides child welfare, mental health and youth justice programming to remote and First Nations communities.
“The layoff notices to all staff have been sent and after December 14 the doors will shut and although the Minister knows this she has said nothing about helping for Payukotayno,” said Mike Tomatuk, spokesperson for CUPE Local 4313 representing staff at Payukotayno Child and Family Services in Moose Factory.
“On November 4th our agency made a formal presentation to the Ministry, a Section 14 Application, requesting funding assistance, and now only days away from our closure date, we still have not had one word of reply,” Tomatuk said. “It’s even harder to understand Ontario’s refusal to help when we know that Ottawa reimburses the province 93 cents for every dollar spent,” he said.
“Many children’s aid societies are in dire straights, but the situation here is compounded due to the remote setting. Payukatayno faces unique challenges where, for example, an emergency visit to see one child/family could take one worker 3 – 5 days depending on distance/accessibility and weather,” Mr. Tomatuk said.
A $3.6 million funding shortfall faced by Payukotayno due to government underfunding means “closure of the agency is possible,” the local Children’s Aid Society Executive Director Ernest Beck publicly warned in October 2009.
On November 20th, National Child Day, all management and unionized staff at Payukotayno wore Blue Ribbons to work to raise awareness about under-funding of Children’s Aid.
The Assembly of First Nations (AFN) and the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada (FNCFCS) have taken the Canadian government to the Tribunal in an effort to hold them responsible for its current treatment of First Nations children. “The complaint alleges that the Government of Canada had a longstanding pattern of providing less government funding for child welfare services to First Nations children on reserves than is provided to non-Aboriginal children.”
CUPE Local 4313 represents 95 front line and support workers at Payukatayno.
Mike Tomatuk CUPE Local 4313 (Moose Factory) 705-658-5749
Jo-Ann Breton CUPE National Representative 705-363-8441
Chris Watson CUPE Communications (firstname.lastname@example.org) 416-553-9410