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Reverse cuts to pre/post-natal programming, Ottawa CAS workers say

Children's Aid Societies

Ottawa – Members of Local 454 of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) will host a news conference Tuesday to demand that the Ottawa Children’s Aid Society reinstate its recently-disbanded pre/post-natal care unit.

Date: Tuesday, May 30, 2017
Time: 10:00 a.m.
Place: Ottawa District Labour Council, 280 Metcalfe St., Ottawa

“It’s unconscionable that Ottawa CAS is cutting this program,” said OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas. “Especially considering inquests into the deaths of infants in care have specifically recommended that pre/post natal programs be implemented at CASs.”

A 2014 inquest following Toronto five-year-old Jordan Heikamp's tragic death explicitly called for increased specialized services for infants to prevent another fatality.

Workers on pre/post-natal teams are trained to identify risk factors unique to vulnerable infants, and have developed relationships with community partners, such as St. Mary's Home, Public Health, and local hospitals.

“The erosion of community supports and preventative programs by Ottawa CAS is extremely troubling,” said Chrisy Tremblay, OPSEU Region 4 Executive Board Member. “The pre/post-natal team had specialized skills to deal with the unique needs of infants of struggling parents. Having this specialized unit is so crucial to ensuring the wellbeing of infants in care. It is more and more difficult to live by our motto of ‘put kids first’ when the government’s constant cuts to funding and services continue to put them last.

“These cuts will leave infants at increased risks of harm. How can anyone justify doing this to children?”

A main concern of Ottawa CAS workers is that the cuts to pre/post-natal programming appear to have been made with “little to no consideration,” said Tremblay. “The unit was disbanded in part due to the recent retirement of the supervisor, which does not indicate in any way that the team was not needed.”

Tremblay will speak at the news conference, joined by OPSEU Local 454 president Michele Thorn, OPSEU Local 474 president Shaun Reid, and Pam Parent of Local 464.

For more information: Chrisy Tremblay, 613-882-7155