Eighteen Children's Aid Society employees in Windsor-Essex have lost their jobs.
All were part-time employees who worked an average of five hours week. The workers supervised children during court-ordered family visits, most of which occurred at homes.
"They do very, very good work for us," Windsor Children's Aid Society CEO Bill Bevan said.
"When you’re facing fiscal difficulties, that’s one place you look at," Bevan said of part-time workers. "We are saving the jobs of permanent staff."
Bevan said the cuts will save the society $500,000 a year.
He said several other departments will now be asked to assist with the court-ordered visitations, many of which will now happen in a group setting at the agency's offices.
Bevan also said another 20 full-time positions will be eliminated through attrition during the next year.
"This is about as far as we can go with cuts," Bevan said.
Cathy Matthe, President of CUPE Local 2286, called the cuts "the tip of the iceberg" and claimed the CAS is underfunded in Windsor.
"What this cut means is most of the visits that occur between the children and the family will occur at the agency which is part of how they will try to cut costs with mileage," Matthe said. "The children that would normally have their visits at home will not be able to do that any longer."
Bevan said that will be the case and it's part of the reason the CAS is building an expansion. It will include more community rooms and house more group meetings between multiple families and CAS supervisors.
Matthe said it's the children who will suffer most.
"They won't be able to go home for holidays because the program is being reduced from a seven-day-a-week program to a five-day-a-week program with no holidays," Matthe said. "They're not going to enjoy those visits that they had at home. They're going to be having their visits here at the office. I think that's a huge loss. For the families and the children."
Bevan said not all one-on-one visits will be eliminated, though.
Bevan expects the number of cases to decrease in Windsor over the next few years and that the agency can maintain care despite the cuts and attrition.
"The volume will ease somewhat over the next couple years," he said. "If I’m wrong, I’ll ask for more dollars to hire more workers."