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Reverse cuts to pre/post-natal programs, OPSEU tells Ottawa CAS

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Members of OPSEU Local 454 are appealing to the Ottawa Children’s Aid Society (CAS) to reverse recent cuts to its pre/post natal programming.

At a news conference Tuesday, members spoke of the vital role played by the specialized pre/post natal team.

20170530_100246.jpgOPSEU members calling on Ottawa CAS to reverse the cuts to pre/post natal programming. Left to right: Pam Parent of Local 464; Michele Thorn, president of Local 454; Chrisy Tremblay, OPSEU Region 4 Executive Board Member; and Shaun Reid, president of Local 474. 

“Their training was above and beyond the basic child protection training,” said Chrisy Tremblay, OPSEU Region 4 Executive Board Member, who has worked at Ottawa CAS for more than 18 years. “They know how to identify the warning signs of failure to thrive, lack of stimulation, signs of pre- and post-partum depression, medical complications, and fragile health.”

Tremblay also pointed out that the pre/post natal program was a specific recommendation that came out of an inquest following the tragic death of 5-week-old Toronto boy Jordan Heikamp.

“The recommendation called for increased face-to-face interactions with infants, that there be a pre- and post-natal public health program developed to monitor mandatory home visits for high risk files,” she said. “We’re now 20 years later, and both of these recommendations that had been implemented are now facing deep cuts.

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“The ministry claims they put the child at the centre, and yet the resources and services that are being dissolved were there to allow workers to do just that.”

Children’s Aid Societies across the province have faced years of cuts. Ottawa CAS now has two family support workers out of an original 18 in the early 2000s.

“Babies have no voice,” Michele Thorn, president of OPSEU Local 454, representing workers at Ottawa CAS, said. “They aren’t able to tell us that they are not eating, that they’ve been crying for hours, that they’ve been in a soiled diaper for hours, or that their parents are fighting, or that their mother has been locked in her room for hours, crying.”

OPSEU members are calling on Ottawa CAS Executive Director Barbara Mckinnon to immediately reverse these cuts.

“We are not backing down,” said Tremblay.

Members of OPSEU Local 464 (Ottawa Hospital) and Local 474 (Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario) also attended the news conference to support Local 454 members.