Cutbacks will put children at risk, NDP says
New Democrat MHA Dale Kirby said government funding cutbacks to the public service sector will put children in the child welfare system at more risk for abuse.
Kirby said the three reports released by Child and Youth Advocate Carol Chafe on Monday show that government funding cuts will make the situation worse.
On Monday, Chafe said the problems which led to the failures leading to abuse and neglect outlined in the three reports still exist today despite the creation of a new department of Child, Youth and Family Services.
Kirby said the reports show a level of transparency that is important in government and government agencies.
However, Kirby said there is a clear message that social workers are given more cases than they can handle.
Chafe said on Monday that the biggest failure in each case was a lack of communication by the case workers.
"We're getting this news in the context of, children are suffering from abuse and neglect in the cases where staff are clearly overworked," Kirby said.
"Staff are unable to handle the current workload that's been handed down to them by their authorities, and we're seeing children suffering from abuse and neglect as a result."
Consequences fall on children
According to Kirby, government cuts to the public service sector will have negative consequences for the children in these situations.
"Ever since it's dawned upon the current government that we have a serious fiscal crisis on our hands, they've been talking about belt-tightening and laying off workers and not filling positions that are currently vacant," he said.
"Well, what's going to happen to these children and young people who are at risk of having this happen to them if we don't even have a complement in the workforce — in the department — to deal with these sorts of situations that we have now?"
Charlene Johnson, the minister of Child, Youth and Family Services, said she is taking the report very seriously.
The Liberal opposition is calling for her immediate resignation.