Toronto – OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas says the government must consult with child protection workers before taking radical measures to restructure the child protection system.
In late December, Premier Kathleen Wynne said she was looking at restructuring the CAS and was even willing to “blow up” the system. But in a letter today to Children’s Aid Society (CAS) employees represented by OPSEU, Thomas insisted that any solution must begin with constructive dialogue with all stakeholders – especially child protection workers.
“If Kathleen Wynne wants to be bold about fixing the system,” Thomas wrote, “she needs to build it up, not blow it up. And the first step in building it up is to start listening to the province’s dedicated and caring child protection workers.”
“Here’s what my members on the frontlines know: first, we need to put some real dollars into direct client service; and second, government needs to address marginalization and poverty, or else some children will always be at greater risk of coming into contact with children’s aid.”
Thomas called for a broad‑based community task force – including child protection workers, teachers, First Nations advisers, anti-poverty organizations, domestic violence groups, public and mental health workers, and housing advisers – to make recommendations on the renewal of the province’s 125-year-old child protection system.
The union president warned that more restructuring could serve to “camouflage” the need for adequate and sustainable funding. Underfunding and understaffing lie at the root of systemic problems identified by Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk, Thomas stressed.
“If the system requires several hours of travel and paperwork for every one hour of time spent directly with clients, then it’s pretty obvious that the CASs needs to hire more workers to ensure that more time is spent with clients.”
For more information: Warren (Smokey) Thomas, 613-329-1931