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Halifax – The union representing frontline workers in child welfare agencies across the province says a planned 1-800 number to replace on-call services is an accident waiting to happen.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees says the Department of Community Services plans to use its own employees to answer calls about cases from across the province - and then have them make crucial decisions about cases that may be hundreds of kilometers away.

CUPE spokesperson Barrie MacFarlane, who is employed by the Children’s Aid Society of Halifax, says, “We see this as fraught with problems. How can somebody on the other end of a telephone be expected to make a decision about a child who could be in crisis in Cheticamp or Yarmouth? They don’t know the background and are not connected to these cases in any way.

It looks like more and more decisions are being taken out of the hands of the professionals in agencies throughout the province and being handed over to officials in Halifax,” says MacFarlane.

This 1-800 number idea is of particular concern to our members. We see this as a back door attempt to centralize services out of Halifax/Dartmouth,” he says.

Says MacFarlane, “These planned changes to on-call duty also represent a dramatic shift on our work. CUPE will be exploring a possible policy grievance, on contracting out the work of union members.

CUPE says it has always supported changes that will ensure services are delivered in the best interests of children and families in need, but does not believe those needs are better met by centralizing all of those decisions in one location.

For information:
Barrie MacFarlane, President, CUPE Local 4672 - (902)474-7318 (w)-(902) 469-5721 (h)
John McCracken, CUPE Communications Rep. - (902) 455-4180 (0)