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May 26, 2001 (Moncton) Hundreds of social workers and other front line professionals from across New Brunswick took to the streets in Moncton today. They were all participants in the Walk for Children, a campaign organized by Local 1418 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees. They were joined by their children, families, foster families, friends and other supporters, carrying balloons and wearing brightly coloured t-shirts. However, while the atmosphere was festive, the message was serious.

We are the workers responsible for protecting children from neglect and abuse, said Robert LeMoignan, President of CUPE Local 1418. We are desperately over-extended and overworked. There are simply not enough of us to do the work that is needed to ensure that every child is safe. Premier Lord needs reminding that hiring the 172 new social workers this province needs could literally mean the difference between life and death.

According to an independent report commissioned by the provincial government, entitled Children Come First, the province needs to hire a minimum of 172 new child protection and children services social workers. Although the report was released in July 2000, the provincial government has only committed to the creation of 20 new permanent positions.

At least three deaths have been linked to a shortage of social workers in New Brunswick, added Susan Barton, President of CUPE NB. Our members are not being dramatic when they say that as Premier Lord delays taking action, childrens lives hang in the balance.

New Brunswicks front line professionals demonstrate their commitment every day to protecting children. The Walk for Children is yet another manifestation of this commitment, concluded CUPE General Vice-President Claude Gnreux. Premier Lord, we are calling on you to show that you share our commitment to protecting every child in this province from neglect and abuse.

Todays Walk for Children was held to coincide with the annual meeting of CUPE Local 1418.

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For more information:
Laurie Kingston, CUPE Communications, 613-266-1415 (cell).