National Child Day marked by failure to meet children’s needs: OPSEU
November 20, 2012
On a day that should be celebrated for achievements made in
child protection and treatment, Ontario is shortchanging its most vulnerable
young people by failing to provide adequate funding for their needs, says the
president of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union.
“Today, November 20, is National Child Day across Canada,” said
OPSEU president Warren (Smokey) Thomas. “But the track record here in Ontario is
one marked by a funding shortfall, cutbacks in services and insufficient staff
levels to meet the growing demand for child protection and treatment.”
This year alone, Ontario is faces a $42 million funding
shortfall to the CAS. To balance their budgets local agencies are forced to cut
staff and programming at many CAS locations.
OPSEU, which represents more than 6,000 workers with the
Children’s Aid Society and other child treatment agencies, is marking National
Child Day by organizing noon hour “block walks” and other activities that will
draw attention to the province’s neglect of the needs of vulnerable children and
their families. The public will be asked to sign postcards to the Minister of
Child and Youth Services, Laurel Broten, demanding that Queen’s Park restore
funding in order to protect and restore programs at risk.
The problem is particularly severe in Waterloo Region where the
local CAS has been forced to eliminate almost 30 staff positions in order to
cover a $2.5 million deficit.
“What our government doesn’t seem to understand or chooses to
willfully ignore is that behind those dollar figures are real children facing
real mental, social and physical challenges in their lives,” said Thomas. “When
you take away those dollars in the name of austerity and deficit-busting a child
and their family are negatively impacted. Is this the sort of legacy our
government has chosen to adopt?”
Greg Hamara, OPSEU Communications, 647-238-9933