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TORONTO – Front-line childrens aid workers from across Ontario say its time for the Liberal government to act to clean up the mess created by the previous Conservative administration in Childrens Aid Society (CAS) funding.

Despite some changes to the provincial funding framework for CASs, there are still major deficiencies in five areas: services to children in care, salaries, workload, travel costs and information technology costs. The persistent shortfall in funding has a direct impact on the services front line staff can provide to children.

Staff say horrendous workload problems still have not been alleviated and that they are finding it more difficult to help vulnerable children. The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) and the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) notified the Ministry of Labour today of their intent to resolve these issues through a co-coordinated bargaining process.

Today, the two unions filed notice to bargain for 14 CAS units across Ontario. Key bargaining issues include workload, wages, kilometrage, liability and benefits.

Staff say 70-75 per cent of their time is spent dealing with paperwork, an issue they want resolved through the bargaining process.

The new Liberal government has an obligation to put adequate funding into child welfare, said CUPE Ontario President Sid Ryan. “During the election campaign, they promised to make funding a priority. If they don’t act now, the system will never conform with recommendations from a provincial inquest that stressed that there must be more front line staff hired to ensure children at-risk of neglect or abuse dont fall through the cracks.”

OPSEU and CUPE agree with comments by the employer group, the Ontario Association of Childrens Aid Societies (OACAS), that current government funding is not enough to cope with increased demands on staff due to the much needed child welfare reform.

The Tories planned to review their funding formula after three years but, of course, this promise was broken, OPSEU President Leah Casselman said. The Liberals were elected on a platform of change. We hope we can work with the Liberals to clean up this Tory mess.

CUPE and OPSEU together represent thousands of employees of most of the 52 childrens aid societies across Ontario, responding to almost a quarter-million calls per year, with about 18,000 children in care.

For further information, please contact:
Sid Ryan, President CUPE Ontario, (416) 578-8774
Leah Casselman, President OPSEU, (416) 443-8888, ext. 301
David Cox, OPSEU Communications, (416) 443-8888, ext. 314
Stella Yeadon, CUPE Communications, (416) 578-8774

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