Children's Aid Society of Ottawa Workers Start Clock on Strike Countdown

OTTAWA, ON, July 4, 2024 /CNW/ – Unsustainable work conditions, shrinking resources, and empty promises of better times to come: the story coming from child protection workers in the Ottawa region is stamped with urgency. Now, after nine months of bargaining, over 320 Children’s Aid Society of Ottawa (CASO) workers are fast approaching a strike deadline. Unless a tentative deal is reached by 12:01 a.m. on July 6th, 2024, these members of OPSEU/SEFPO Local 454 will be out on strike and picket lines going up the morning of July 8th.

“We’ve been sounding the alarm on deteriorating conditions for years, as worksite after worksite closed before our eyes.” said Michele Thorn, President of OPSEU/SEFPO Local 454. “Workers are going above and beyond their job descriptions to fill the gaps left by a government which neglects to fund other community agencies just as it neglects us – and still, kids are slipping through those gaps at alarming rates.”

“We’re concerned about the impacts of a full shut down, but the current conditions are untenable,” added Thorn. “It’s not safe for the children, youth, and families that we’re supporting when workers are spread this thin.”

OPSEU/SEFPO Local 454 represents front line child protection workers, child and youth counsellors, administrative support and IT support workers, and direct service staff including placement office, telephone intake, and foster care, adoption, and kin workers at the Children’s Aid Society of Ottawa. The union and employer had one last scheduled conciliation date this past Tuesday, but talks broke down after it became clear that progress on key issues, including protections against mass layoffs as well as long-awaited improvements to wages, was not on the table.

The union says that the agency must prioritize fulfilling its mandate to ensure the “safety and wellbeing of children and youth” and resist further incursions on resources available to families and communities. With the Ford government failing to act, that work must start at the bargaining table. 

“The Employer has communicated imminent mass layoffs that we can’t afford – and neither can the families we support,” said Thorn. “We’re already struggling with high rates of burnout as we try to keep pace with increasingly complex cases amidst dwindling resources. Layoffs will have disastrous consequences for workload and only make it harder for staff to keep families together.”

Like many agencies across the sector, CAS Ottawa is struggling with a recruitment and retention crisis caused by low wages, which is putting an even greater strain on the remaining workers as staffing levels become more dire.

The rising cost of living has workers feeling the economic crunch, too, says Thorn. “Last bargaining round, our hands and our wages were severely tied by Bill 124. The employer promised they’d help us ‘catch up’ next time – it’s always next time, but we’re struggling now. This work isn’t getting any easier and we need to be resourced to meet the challenges head on.”

“We’re tired of signaling the magnitude of the crisis in CAS, and feeling like there’s no audience for that distress,” added Thorn. “If the province isn’t paying attention – or is choosing to look away – we’re ready to take this fight public and to the picket line.”

“Kids deserve better than lip service,” said JP Hornick, President of OPSEU/SEFPO. “If Ford truly cared about children, his government wouldn’t keep putting the most vulnerable kids in our communities at risk – hundreds in Ottawa region, thousands across the province – by continuing to underfund Children’s Aid Societies.”

SOURCE Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU/SEFPO)

Children's Aid Society of Ottawa Workers Start Clock on Strike Countdown WeeklyReviewer

PR Newswire Political/Government News

World Reviewer Staff
World Reviewer Staff
The first logical thought has to be "no way". I'm the World Observer! Ill find and share important news all day.

Latest articles

Earnings Disclosure

WeeklyReviewer earns primarily through affiliates and ads. We don’t encourage anyone to click on ads for any other purpose but your own. We recommend products and services often for our readers, and through many we will earn commissions through affiliate programs.

Related articles