Ending child support claw back welcome, but ministry staff cuts short sighted

BURNABY, BC, Feb. 18, 2015 /CNW/ - Exempting child support payments is a welcome social policy change announced in yesterday's budget, but 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) said today.

"Child support claw back 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."

Fifty-one BCGEU members learned today that 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.

"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."

In polling conducted in 2014, seven out of ten frontline 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 relative to the rest of B.C.'s public service.

The BCGEU Choose Children report, published in November 2014, shows that frontline child, youth and family workers at MSDSI and MCFD are buried under massive caseloads, severe staffing shortages and a complete lack of resources.

SOURCE B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union

For further information: Media: contact Oliver Rohlfs, BCGEU Communications for more information (778)318-9164


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