MISSISSAUGA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - March 18, 2013) - Efforts by the Peel Region Children's Aid Society (CAS) to address funding shortfalls are simply the tip of an iceberg that threatens child protection efforts across the Province of Ontario, representatives for the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) warned today.
"No one should be surprised that agencies like Peel CAS are taking extreme steps to ensure they have the funding necessary to fulfill their legislated mandates to protect children," said Carrie Lynn Poole-Cotnam, Chair of the CUPE Ontario Social Services sector.
"Peel CAS is operating with a $2.3 million deficit. There is a Province-wide funding deficit of $67 million for Children's Aid, and agencies shoulder millions more in historic debts. What's happening in Peel right now is just the tip of the iceberg," she added.
Last week, a leaked memo revealed that Peel CAS was taking unusual steps to ensure ongoing funding. While the Ministry of Children and Youth Services has engaged in discussions with Peel CAS, Poole-Cotnam says the Province needs to take meaningful action to address the funding shortfall faced by children's aid societies across the Province.
"When you're dealing with an iceberg, shuffling deck chairs is not the answer. The Province has committed to revamping the formula used to fund CAS, but this still fails to address the root challenges facing the sector, which is $67 million in underfunding," she said.
Across the province, CUPE members have been sounding the alarm, reporting cuts to services that prevent them from providing necessary supports to families in crisis and care to vulnerable children in need. The first services to feel the impact are those services which support early identification of issues and intervention before problems can escalate.
"If the Province does not reverse the millions of dollars in budget cuts to child protection, we will likely be seeing many more scenarios like the one revealed at Peel CAS. Over the years there have been some positive changes in child welfare to provide services and supports to families that prevent admission to care. However, the mantra of cost-cutting has applied business ledger sensibilities to a human service like child protection. This threatens to undo the positive changes that have been made. This is not a strategy to keep kids safe," said Poole-Cotnam.