Friday, July 17, 2009

Child protection to bear the brunt of budget cutting from Liberals

In a move that surely should provide for a bit of a backlash, the Provincial government appears to be making those that have the least and may be in the most need, bear the cost of their suddenly required budget reductions and re-allocations.

Staff at a number of Northwest Child Protection offices were informed of the pending staff cuts as the Ministry tries to come to terms with the balance required for the staffing of front line social workers with the funding provided by the government to cover salaries.

Workers in Prince Rupert, Terrace and Kitimat were informed on Thursday that six positions were going to be eliminated in the Ministry of Children and Families, possibly through the process of leaving vacancies empty and with attrition, but the prospect of potential layoffs could be also be involved.

The timing of the cuts to services is particularly bad, considering the current economic climate of the Northwest, the need for that front line assistance for children and families is perhaps at its greatest than it has been in a number of years.

As anyone who has wandered down the streets of Rupert this year might have noticed, there is a rather large presence of youth in the city, many of whom most likely could be helped by the services offered by the Ministry, however, if budget cuts continue to chip away at the staffing levels and add to the burden of the files for those left behind, it's most likely a safe bet that some will be falling through the cracks.

With all the money the government has spent on Spirit Squares and the endless stream of advertising telling us how we're the best place on earth, perhaps a bit of financial reallocation might be in order to better serve the taxpayers and those in the most need.

The government of course must account for the declining economic situation and find ways to balance their books and such, but so far with the recent announcements in the Health Ministry and now the latest development in the Children's and Families Ministry, it seems that the Campbell Liberals are putting the burden on those that should be protected the most.

It's not a plan of approach that they announced during the recent election campaign, at no time did the need for such measures make it into the debate during the spring election which eventually returned Mr. Campbell to office.
As for the current developments, the Minister Mary Polak however, counters the view that these are layoffs, instead she suggests that the Ministry is just transferring some of the files over to Aboriginal agencies. They will apparently take over the cases of First Nations residents. She suggests that the current uproar is more of a case of union fear mongering and delivering false information.
Regardless off the approach, the devolution of cases to other offices is still changing the current dynamic and in the end one would suspect that positions will be reduced in the main Ministry offices.
It will be interesting to see how each side interprets those numbers and the information that is starting to flow from these decisions, but lost amongst all the rhetoric is the fact that families and children in particular may find their lives disrupted by all of the ongoing drama.

It seems disingenuous to believe that this was not on the drawing board before May, and now that the Liberals have been safely returned to office, we may just begin to wonder how far they plan to go with their new sudden dedication to service reductions and ongoing change.

Some may cautiously suggest, that sadly, we haven't seen anything yet!

The Northern View-- Northwest child protection workers told of staff reductions
The Prince George Citizen-- Child protection workers laid off due to budget cuts
The Vancouver Province-- Job cuts on the way

No comments: