Citing increased workload demands, wages that are being eroded by inflation and chronic underfunding to services, workers at Catholic Children’s Aid Society of Toronto have voted overwhelmingly in favour of authorizing their union to take strike action if a fair deal cannot be reached in the current round of contract negotiations.

Catholic Children’s Aid Society Toronto (CCAS) is set to transition from having four locations across the city to a single east end location, a move that the union believes will make service, including regular supervised access visits, unmanageable for many families, putting undue stress on the families that rely on CCAS services and the workers who deliver them.

“Imagine you live in the west end and the office you used to walk to every week has moved to Scarborough, and you don’t have a car. This is the situation many of our families are going to find themselves in when the move takes place,” said Nancy Simone, President of CUPE 2190, which represents 400 workers at CCAS, “or an intake worker responding to a crisis call in the west end – do we really want them spending an hour traveling to a child at risk?”

CCAS has had its funding cut by $8.5 million in the last five years while worker caseload demands are increasing. “The way child welfare services are funded in this province is completely flawed. We are being given more responsibilities without the necessary resources to fulfil those responsibilities,” said Simone. “It is not fair to the families who rely on our services or to our members. Our members have decided that they will no longer allow the government, or the agency, to put the burden of underfunding onto families and workers. Something has to change.” Along with the increased workload, wages at the Catholic Children’s Aid Society are not keeping pace with inflation and are falling behind workers from the Children’s Aid Society of Toronto.

The two sides are scheduled to meet with a provincially appointed conciliator on Thursday, May 10.