HAMILTON, Ont. - Underfunded Children’s Aid Societies (CAS) across the province are forced to rely on volunteers to provide services and ensure children are kept safe and supported in keeping with provincial government legislation.
The escalating impact of this provincial underfunding means agencies are now being forced to make cuts that will hurt kids. Hamilton Catholic Children’s Aid Society’s (CCAS) recent decision to cut volunteer drivers’ mileage reimbursement from 43 cents to 32 cents is just the latest example.
“We are not staffed at a level where staff can transport children we support to their many medical appointments, parental and sibling visits, court ordered access visits, etc” said Local 1797 President James Gillam “We rely on our dedicated and caring volunteers do this important work.”
“We’ve got 30 volunteer drivers who collectively make up to 180 trips every day, within the city and between St. Catharines, Kitchener and even Oshawa. For the provincial government to put kids at risk by forcing CAS agencies to make it impossible for volunteers to help is unconscionable,” said Gillam.
Volunteers were joined today at a rally in front of the Hamilton CCAS by front line CCAS workers and members of CUPE 1797 to call on the province to adequately fund the supports needed by at-risk children. The rally is being held during Volunteer Appreciation Week.
As of February 2010 the estimated funding shortfall for CAS agencies across the province is approximately $32.5 million. The response of the ministry to many CAS employer requests to review their inadequate funding was the January announcement of some ‘mitigation funding’. This funding did not address the growing crisis in the child protection sector. Services and supports for at risk children and youth are being cut.
“In the end, the children are hurt by the government underfunding - this is simply wrong!” said Local 1797 President James Gillam.
“The solution here is for the Province to provide stable and adequate long-term base funding for these programs, not short-term ‘band-aid’ mitigation measures,” said Gillam.
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For more information:
James Gillam, President CUPE Local 1797 289-808-7004
Kevin Wilson, CUPE Communications 416-821-6641