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‘Fix and fund’ Child Protection Information Network, children’s aid staff say

Kitchener – Frontline staff at Family and Children’s Services of Waterloo Region are calling on the Minister of Children and Youth Services (MCYS) “to fix and fund” a provincial computer network that is taking direct service hours away from children and families.

“The child protection sector has a history of workload and funding issues which affect our ability to work with kids and families,” said Steven Dick, President of Local 258 of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU). “The Child Protection Information Network, CPIN, is just another example that has brought more difficulties in terms of hours.

“With the new system it takes a lot longer to do our paperwork,” Dick said. “Something that used to take five minutes now takes 15 to 20 minutes, and it adds up. We’re spending more time on administrative stuff and less on direct service to children and families that need our support.

“We support a province-wide network for sharing information about families,” he added. “On National Child Day, we’re calling on Minister Michael Coteau to provide proper funding and fix CPIN so vulnerable children aren’t short-changed.”

Family and Children’s Services of Waterloo Region now has a budget deficit of $2.3 million, nearly $2 million of which is related to CPIN. Agencies across the province face similar problems: originally budgeted to cost $122 million, CPIN has cost $200 million already. Only 20 of 48 children’s aid societies in the province have gone live with the system.

OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas warned Minister Coteau not to view the problems with CPIN as mere technical issues.

“What is happening with CPIN is what we have seen with Ontario’s Social Assistance Management System (SAMS) and the federal government’s Phoenix payroll system,” he said. “Computer problems like this are hugely problematic, not only because private contractors come with cost overruns, but because the systems they deliver undermine the very service they were set up to improve.

“I urge minister Coteau to take CPIN very seriously,” he said. “As with everything involving child protection, the stakes are high.”

For more information: Steven Dick, 519-502-8136