ST. THOMAS, ONTARIO and ELGIN, ONTARIO– Feb. 26, 2010) – Today, front line Children’s Aid workers will ask local MPP Steve Peters to come to the aid of vulnerable children and families by pressing the government to fix a faulty funding formula that has kept Children’s Aid Societies (CASs) in a funding crisis for years.
“In 2006, the government legislated CASs to do much more to improve safety and better outcomes for children and families, but has not kept up its side of the equation with adequate funding,” says Marcia Andkilde, Unit Chair of CUPE 841.5, representing front line workers at the St. Thomas and Elgin Children’s Aid Society. “We’re calling on our MPP to step up and advocate for long-term provincial funding in the coming provincial budget to sustain child welfare programs in our community.”
Since October 2009, CASs, across Ontario, have operated under a collective budget deficit of approximately $67 million at 37 agencies. Last week, Children and Youth Services Minister Laurel Broten announced $22.5 million in ‘mitigation’ funding for 26 agencies. This funding provides only a stopgap and leaves agencies considering program closures in order to address ongoing and compounding funding shortfalls. CAS agencies need stable, long-term funding to be able to protect children.
Provincial child welfare workers believe provincial legislation changes to improve child safety and care are positive and have resulted in CASs being better able to protect and support vulnerable children. While agencies and workers have strived to better support children and their families, the provincial government fails to fund at a level to support their own initiatives and legislation.
CUPE Ontario President Fred Hahn says, “There is no excuse for the government to cut the very supports that allow at risk children to flourish. Overall, provincial child welfare (2008/09) spending only represented 1.2% of the Ontario government’s (2008/09) program spending.”
“Investing in social services like the CAS not only meets community and social needs, it delivers strong economic stimulus—it is both a deficit and poverty-fighting measure,” says Hahn. “These investments are a critical underpinning for Ontario’s economic recovery. Doing what’s right for children is what the priority must be.”
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