January 30, 2002 (Bathurst) – The staff of Foyer Le Rameur du Nord, in Petit Rocher held a news conference in Bathurst today to demand the province bring an end to a crisis at the group home for youth in difficulty and young offenders.
“We are calling on Joan MacAlpine, the Minister of Family and Social Services, to initiate a public inquiry into administrative and labour relations practices at the Foyer. It is long past time for her to become involved,” said Ren 0044oucet, President of CUPE Local 3179, which represents all educators and overnight staff at the Foyer.
Flanked by Marie-Hlne Villeneuve, a former resident of the Foyer, Linda Doucet the foster parent of a former resident, as well as Pierre Godin, who founded the Foyer 22 years ago, Mr. Doucet explained that the province has thus far refused to intervene in a situation has put the future of the Foyer in jeopardy. Since the hiring of a new Administrator in July 2001, ten of the fourteen staff at the Foyer have either been fired, been forced to resign or have taken long-term sick leave. The Foyer was closed for three months in the fall of 2001.
“We used to function as team, at the Foyer. The staff really cared about the kids and about each other. It was sometimes work that was very difficult, but we enjoyed it and felt like we were having a positive effect on the lives of our residents. Now all that has changed,” said Pierre Cyr, one of the educators at the Foyer who was fired without notice. “For more than 20 years, the Foyer Le Rameur du Nord has been an important and necessary part of our community. Now, bad management is putting the future of the Foyer at risk.”
The Foyer is provincially funded as a non-profit with a volunteer Board of Directors. All appeals to the Board have gone unheeded. Staff of the Ministry of Family and Social Services stated that the situation at the Foyer is not the Ministry’s responsibility.
“Today we are announcing the launch of a public campaign to save the Foyer Le Rameur du Nord. We are prepared to take this petition to every door in Petit Rocher and the surrounding area if we have to – and we are confident that we can collect hundreds of signatures of support,” continued Ren 0044oucet.
“We ask for community members to write letters of support to the Minister of Family and Social Services and to our local papers. Let the provincial government know that you support us and that the Foyer Le Rameur du Nord is an important part of your community.”
“We really believe that the future of the foyer is what’s at stake here,” concluded Mr. Doucet. “Someone needs to take responsibility.”
For more information: Laurie Kingston, CUPE Communications, (613) 266-1415 (cell) or (506) 546-6621 (Danny’s Inn, Bathurst)