Seventeen positions being permanently eliminated Chatham-Kent Children's Services

Daily News Staff

The union representing staff at Chatham-Kent Children's Services is slamming the decision to layoff 17 workers, stating the impact will be hardest on children and families who depend on child protection services.

"Children's services is blaming these job losses on an operating deficit that has grown over the years and that the province demands it must eliminate now," said Candice Copeland, vice-president of Local 148 of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU), in a written release.

"If that's the case why should our clients, their families and our members pay such a steep price for the fact that management has been incapable of balancing its budgets?" she added.

Copeland noted that caseloads at CKCS have steadily grown in recent years thanks, in large measure, to a weak local economy. She added eliminating these positions "will only increase the pressure on the already stretched services at this agency, asking workers to do more with less."

Monica Bacic, CKCS board chair, said in a written release the agency needs to achieve savings in order to meet new provincial requirements for all children's aid societies to balance their budgets for the current fiscal year.

"To meet these requirements, the board has approved a combination of temporary layoffs, downsizing through attrition, and reductions in contracted workers," she said.
She noted the layoffs impact both part-time and full-time staff for a total of 15.5 full-time equivalent positions. There is one layoff in administration and two positions were downsized through attrition, she said, adding 5.4 full-time equivalent contract positions will be wrapped up.

The layoffs impact nearly 9% of the CKCS staff.

"Work will be re-assigned to other staff members," Bacic said. "Our priority remains to protect the safety of children in Chatham-Kent."

Copeland blames the new funding model root cause of a weakening of services, because it doesn't take caseloads into account. She added the same funding model is to blame for the loss of 40 jobs at the London-Middlesex Children's Aid Society.

Warren (Smokey) Thomas, with OPSEU, said in a written statement: "This government must realize that the new funding model will destabilize the child protection system if it cannot take into account actual numbers of children and families being served."

He added the job losses could have been avoided if the government were to adopt an alternative "transitional funding" formula in place of the model put forward by the Liberal government that will directly impact frontline services to children and families.

The elimination of jobs at CKCS will be staggered, starting next month and will continue into early 2014.

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