Toronto, ON … Fred Hahn, new President of CUPE, Ontario’s largest trade union, was as relieved as families in Northern Ontario by the last minute decision by Ontario Child & Youth Services Minister Laurel Broten, for an infusion of funds preventing the planned December 14th shut down of the Payukotayno James and Hudson Bay Family Services. This decision, along with providing emergency funding for two other northern first nations children’s aid societies, Tikinagan and Pikangikum, is the right thing to do. Hahn cautioned, however, that underlying problems remain and unless the Minister acts quickly to secure a long term solution, this month’s near catastrophic experience will be repeated in early 2010.
“Late in the day though it was, CUPE congratulates Minister Broten for doing the right thing by ensuring these agencies stay open and, continue to provide vital supports to children and families in northern first nation communities,” Mr. Hahn said.
“The real challenge remains as long as there is no long term solution to the children’s aid funding crisis. Without that, the closure threat offset today will reappear and children and families will be threatened again, even as soon as January or February of 2010,” said the new CUPE Ontario President.
“CUPE is very concerned for the safety of vulnerable children and families.” said Hahn, “I caution Minister Broten not to invite a repeat of this near disaster by waiting for a Commission that won’t conclude its work for three years. The Government knows the CAS funding formula doesn’t work, either to meet the requirements of its own Bill 210, or to support the requirements of northern and remote agencies like Payukotayno.”
CUPE Ontario supports the assertion of the Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies (OACAS) Executive Director Jeanette Lewis’s, that “the horrific situations presenting themselves as a result of severe under-funding of aboriginal child welfare agencies and communities have gone unresolved for much too long.”
CUPE Local 4313 represents 95 front line and support staff at Payukotayno James and Hudson Bay Family Services.
Kevin Wilson CUPE Communications 416-821-6641
Kathy Johnson CUPE Social Services Coordinator 416-272-6698
Chris Watson CUPE Communications 416-553-9410