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Canada : Ending child support clawback welcome, but ministry staff cuts short sighted

“We are very disappointed in the government’s decision and failure to address the very pressing staffing problems in other ministry program areas." — Stephanie Smith, BCGEU President.

Vancouver (20 Feb. 2015) — Exempting child

support payments is a welcome social policy change announced in British Columbia's recent budget, but the government’s decision to cut over fifty ministry workers who administered this program is short sighted, the B.C. Government and Service Employees’ Union (BCGEU/NUPGE) said. 

Fifty-one front-line workers lose jobs in already under-resourced Ministry

“Child support clawback was harmful and ill-advised social policy. We welcome the government’s decision to rescind this policy effective September 1,” said BCGEU President Stephanie Smith. “But cutting 51 jobs from the ministry at a time when there are real concerns about caseload, workload, and staffing strategies at the ministry is short sighted and ill advised,” Smith added. 

“We are very disappointed in the government’s decision and failure to address the very pressing staffing problems in other ministry program areas," Smith said. "We are also concerned about the uncertainty surrounding the scope of services to be provided by MSDSI or other agencies after September 1 for parents seeking support for child support payments.”

Fifty-one BCGEU/NUPGE members learned that their jobs in the Family Maintenance Program were being eliminated from the Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation (MSDSI) as a result of this policy change. 

New job cuts will make workloads even more unmanageable

“We will work on mitigating the effect of this decision on our members to the best of our ability. Impacted workers are protected by strong collective agreement language, including a placement process for other positions,” said BCGEU Vice-President Doug Kinna. He represents a majority of the impacted workers in the BCGEU Social, Information and Health Component. “We will assist each member in finding the best possible outcome we can given the circumstances.” 

“The decision to cut these positions is short sighted. Child, youth and family workers at MSDSI face unmanageable workloads because of the Integrated Case Management software (ICM) and poor staffing and recruitment practices,” Smith said. “Unpaid overtime is practically institutionalized at MSDSI.” 

Poll results show ministry understaffed 

In polling conducted in 2014, seven out of ten front-line MSDSI child, youth and family workers disagreed with the statement — “my office is adequately staffed and resourced”— and nearly half disagreed strongly. MSDSI also has higher rates of absence due to illness and stress compared to the rest of B.C.’s public service. 

The BCGEU Choose Children report, published in November 2014, shows that front-line child, youth and family workers at MSDSI and the Ministry of Child and Family Development are buried under massive caseloads, severe staffing shortages, and a complete lack of resources. 

NUPGE

The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE

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