Children's Aid Society of Hamilton cuts 70 jobs

Children's Aid Society of Hamilton announced on Thursday that it's cutting 70 jobs as a result of a reduction in funding from the province.

Children's Aid Society of Hamilton announced on Thursday that it's cutting 70 jobs as a result of a reduction in funding from the province.

"It's been a very tough day for everyone but we must carry on," CAS executive director Dominic Verticchio told CBC Hamilton on Thursday.

The provincial budget cuts will mean a $4.7 million reduction to the Children's Aid Society of Hamilton's budget over the next four years.

"We're committed to providing child protection to this community, but it's going to be a very different servce than in the past."

The agency will not axe frontline workers, it said in a statement. Instead, the job cuts "will result in the loss of many support programs that prevented children from being admitted into the care of the agency."

Support programs for children in foster homes will also be affected.

"Unfortunately, the province decided that this is what their plan is. I'm not sure that they've given full consideration to what the impacts are going to be," Verticchio said.

"There are going to be more children in care and there will be more displaced families. That is not business as usual."

Council to complain to Queen's Park

The move to trim down funding for children's aid agencies has drawn the ire of city politicians. Councillors voted on Wednesday to complain to the province about the cuts.

Dr. Elizabeth Richardson, Hamilton's Medical Officer of Health, will bring a report to the general issues committee later this month regarding how the city can protest the cuts to the Children's Aid Society of Hamilton.

"The CAS is laying off as we speak," said Coun. Brad Clark of Stoney Creek, who introduced the motion for the report, said on Wednesday. "It's having an impact on the city and I just don't think we can wait."

The Hamilton society has an annual budget of about $50 million. Other societies, Verticchio said, are facing cuts as high as $5.7 million in one year.

The Hamilton Catholic Children's Aid Society is facing a two per cent reduction to its $26-million budget, said David Shea, its director of communications.

The society is still determining what that means in dollars, and if it will mean staff cuts.

"Our goal is to not (cut staff) if possible because we can't stop providing our service," he said.

"There's caution in the air. We've been living very tight to our budget."

Monique Taylor, MPP for Hamilton Mountain, said her office has been "inundated" with emails from employees.

"Staff already working overtime, struggling to meet the growing need in our community, are trying to understand how they're going to do more with less," Taylor said in the legislature this week.

"Workers have told me that these cuts will make their jobs impossible, that they are terrified of what this will mean for the already vulnerable children and families they serve."