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BURNABY Community living authority CEO Doug Walls resignation amid allegations of fraud shows that government plans to restructure community social services are on the rocks and people with disabilities are going to pay the price, says Barry ONeill, president of CUPE BC.

CUPE BC is calling on the government to halt the restructuring and restore stability to a sector plagued with endless restructuring and funding cuts.

On January 17, the Victoria Times Colonist reported that Walls was appointed to the position six months after Children and Families Minister Gordon Hogg was notified of the allegations. Rafe Mair has called for the resignation of Minister Hogg and Deputy Minister Chris Haynes.

It is disturbing to learn that the ministry knew about the charges of fraud and appointed Walls anyway, said ONeill. This government doesnt seem to be taking these kind of allegations very seriously.

The resignation of Walls amid scandal has left the new authority for community living without a head. The new authority is scheduled to take over ministry responsibility for services to almost 10,000 people with disabilities on June 1, 2004.

In less than four months, the government plans to offload responsibility for community living to an arms length agency, said ONeill. This plan has enough holes to drive a truck through. There are serious concerns about peoples safety as the Liberals cut and restructure at the same time.

Independent reviews, including the Sage Report, have found major problems with the governments plans. Documents from the BC Association of Community Living outline the risks of the cutbacks including concerns about services and safety of clients.

Now they have lost the head of that agency, Doug Walls, to scandal. They need to put brakes on this before their reckless agenda hurts someone, said ONeill.

ONeill notes that trust in government is diminishing rapidly as rumours of scandal continue to plague the Legislature.

These scandals dont just hurt the government, they impact those who receive services and count on the government to do their job every day, said ONeill. As the scandal sheet grows longer, British Columbians are rapidly losing trust in the ability of the government to function properly.

CUPE represents approximately 2000 workers in community social services.