OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas issued the following statement today to mark National Child Day, November 20.
Twenty-six years ago, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The Convention is a “promise to children that we would do everything in our power to protect and promote their rights to survive and thrive, to learn and grow, to make their voices heard and to reach their full potential.”
On November 20, OPSEU recognizes the child protection workers and children’s mental health and children’s treatment workers who dedicate their lives to improving the lives of children in Ontario. Their work makes us a more compassionate and caring society.
This is a time of tremendous uncertainty for workers in the system. Services for vulnerable children have come under tremendous public scrutiny in 2016. A series of independent reports and a Coroner’s inquest into the death of Katelynn Sampson have pressured the government to review the child protection system and residential services overall.
This review is an opportunity for the government to re-examine its funding models and be more accountable for services to vulnerable children. There is no reason why children should have to leave their communities to access mental health treatment, or be placed in foster care far away from their families. It’s about time that we truly placed children at the centre of care.
That’s why we support the Katelynn’s Principle Act, a new bill aimed at recognizing children as individuals with rights. If passed, the bill would put children at the centre of all decision-making affecting them when it comes to the child welfare, youth justice and education systems. The private member's bill tabled on November 2 by Monique Taylor, MPP (NDP), is a positive step towards making change.
We cannot move forward without the involvement of workers, the primary partners in the province's care and protection systems. To these members I say, your union cherishes your work. Have a great day!
Warren (Smokey) Thomas
President, Ontario Public Service Employees Union