Children’s Aid Society of Ottawa Workers Call on Province to Put Kids First

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Workers in the Ottawa region are sounding the alarm on the crisis in children’s aid and calling for urgent interministerial action on funding for Children’s Aid Societies. In the last year alone, a record number of children in care have slipped through the cracks created by resource pressures flowing from chronic financial deficits, soaring inflation, and a provincial government failing to act.

In a rare show of worker-employer solidarity, on June 18th, 2024 the Ottawa and District Labour Council (ODLC) held a critical press conference with Michele Thorn, President of OPSEU/SEFPO Local 454 representing nearly 400 Children’s Aid Society Ottawa workers; Kelly Raymond, Executive Director of CASO; Arlette Carrier, President of CUPE 2577 representing frontline staff at the Family & Children’s Services of Lanark, Leeds and Grenville; and Sean Mckenny, ODLC President.

“We’re working harder than ever with less and less resources available. It’s like wringing milk from stone – the funding isn’t there to meet the demands,” said Michele Thorn in a media release. “The kids and families we work with need us — and we need government ministries to step up, from child welfare to justice, if they’re serious about putting children first.”

As critical needs in the community continue to rise, workers are at a breaking point trying to manage intensifying staffing needs amidst shrinking resources. Staff at the Children’s Aid Society of Ottawa (CASO), members of OPSEU/SEFPO Local 454, will be in a legal strike or lockout position as of 12:01 a.m. on July 6th, 2024. Since October of last year, the union has been bargaining a new contract, seeking meaningful changes to working conditions needed for staff to better meet the complex and growing care needs of vulnerable children in our communities. Earlier this spring, workers voted 85% in favour of taking strike action if necessary as a last resort.

Read more about the situation in the media round-up below: