St. Catharines, Ont. – Program cuts announced by Family and Children’s Services Niagara (FACS) will result in approximately 100 children and their parents losing the services of Best Start and Early Learning and Parenting programs, warns the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE).
“Child welfare services in the Niagara community will be severely affected by these cuts,” said Carolyn Taylor, president of CUPE 2328. “Three out of the six centres serving children and parents will be closed or affected by the cuts caused by underfunding and downloading by the provincial government over the years – our community must come together to stop the closure of crucial social services that the most vulnerable members of our community rely on.”
The Early Learning and Parenting programs help prepare children to enter school and provide necessary parenting skills to parents to help care for their children. The Best Start program provides early development, learning and child care services to ensure children are ready to learn when they begin school. Programs offered in Niagara Falls, Welland and Smithville will be affected by the cuts, announced by FACS Niagara. CUPE 2328 represents over 250 child protection, child and youth workers, early childhood educators and other support staff at FACS Niagara.
“Seven dedicated employees will be laid off as a result of these cuts. This is in addition to the 11 staff who were laid off in January when the First Response Team program was dismantled,” said Taylor. “The remaining staff are now expected to do more with less – how can quality services be maintained when programs are continually being cut and staff are laid off?”
CUPE 2328 representatives will be attending the FACS Niagara board meeting on Wednesday evening, April 23 to personally tell the board members how the program cuts will hurt children, parents and workers at FACS. The union will also ask the board to join the concerned community to lobby senior levels of government to properly fund crucial social and child welfare services.
“Our members, clients and community partners are alarmed by the cuts and will mobilize to take action,” said Taylor. “We will be asking the regional and provincial governments to step in and show leadership, and provide financial assistance to reverse the program cuts that will hurt children in our community.”
For further information, please contact:
Carolyn Taylor, CUPE 2328 President, 905-704-0223
Mike Stokes, CUPE National Representative, 905-641-3051
James Chai, CUPE Communications, 416-292-3999