Northern Ontario children now "throwaways" due to government funding cuts

RAINY RIVER, ON, Sept. 28 /CNW/ - The impending shutdown of Family and Children's Services in Rainy River due to funding shortfalls is a clear signal that the Ontario government is treating the lives of northern Ontario children as "throwaways," says the Ontario Public Service Employees Union.

OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas is demanding that the McGuinty government immediately reassess how the province is funding children and family services, not only in the north, but across the province.

"Services for children and families across Northern Ontario are about to collapse because the government is simply not providing enough money to fund them," Thomas said. "In fact, this funding crisis has spread across the province, and soon the entire system will implode."

OPSEU has learned that services in Rainy River are about to cease because the government will not provide enough funding to continue operations there. Contributing to the budget shortfall in Rainy River are some extraordinary child cases, some court-ordered, that are costing the agency hundreds of thousands of dollars in care.

"The government has basically said to the agency 'Too bad, deal with it, we aren't giving you any extra money,'" Thomas said. "They have put a price tag on these kids' heads, and if it's too expensive to care for them, then that's not their problem."

Thomas also warns that these northern agencies are just the first in a long line of child and family services that are facing huge budget shortfalls.

"The entire system is in crisis due to a severe lack of proper funding," Thomas said. "The Ontario government, a Liberal government, must put children and youth first, no matter where they live in the province. Premier McGuinty must address this immediately, before an irreversible tragedy occurs."

SOURCE OPSEU

For further information: For further information: Tom Wood, OPSEU Staff Representative, Dryden, (807) 221-6528; Don Ford, OPSEU Communications, (416) 448-7442


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