Hamilton politicians will protest cuts to children's aid society

The province has cut the budgets for Hamilton's children's aid societies, and city councillors plan to complain to the province about it.

The province has cut budgets for Hamilton's children's aid societies and city councillors aren't happy about it

The province has cut the budgets for Hamilton's children's aid societies, and city councillors plan to complain to the province about it.

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. "It's having an impact on the city and I just don't think we can wait."

The cuts will mean a $4.7 million reduction to the Children's Aid Society of Hamilton's budget over the next four years, said executive director Dominic Verticchio. It will also mean a number of layoffs.

He wouldn't elaborate Wednesday on how many of the society's 375 staff will lose their jobs, saying the workers impacted haven't been notified yet. But it will be across both management and unionized staff.

Because the society can't cut front-line child protection workers, it has to cut from programs that help keep children in their homes. That will ultimately cost the system more money, he said.

"What it means for us is a devastating reduction," he said.

"This is a bloodbath in a sea of red across the province."

The 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, 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."

The support from city council for the CAS is a pleasant surprise, Verticchio said.

"I'm glad that they're going to take up the challenge on behalf of us to the province."

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."


Samantha Craggs is journalist based in Windsor, Ont. She is executive producer of CBC Windsor and previously worked as a reporter and producer in Hamilton, specializing in politics and city hall. Follow her on Twitter at @SamCraggsCBC, or email her at samantha.craggs@cbc.ca