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News release - Workload, worker safety important to Peel CAS

September 19, 2016

For immediate release

CUPE Local 4914 representing child protection, administrative and support workers is on strike. “We have implemented our Contingency Plan which will enable us to continue to provide essential child protection services during the strike,” says Rav Bains, CEO, Peel CAS. “The care and safety of children and families we work with will continue to be our primary focus. We will be conducting all investigations where a child might be at risk, attending court and supporting families who have open files with us.”

Families and the community are encouraged to continue to call with child protection concerns.  “We will be prioritizing and responding to urgent situations to ensure the safety of children,” adds Bains. “We ask for the public’s patience and understanding as we operate with a reduced workforce.”

Peel CAS has put forward a good offer that it believes is fair. The offer includes salary increases in each year as well as improvements to other benefits and working conditions. “The current offer to the union will increase our costs by $1.8 million each year,” says Bains. “It is critical that our operational costs do not increase to the point where our ability to deliver service to vulnerable children and families in our community is compromised.”

The work done by CASs is complex and managing workload is important to providing quality services to children, youth and families. “Ensuring staff have manageable workloads is an important issue for the Agency,” says Bains. “We collaboratively work with staff to monitor and regularly review workload ranges and make adjustments as required.” The expired collective agreement outlined workload ranges for each service type.  These workload ranges have been in the collective agreement for the past six years. Peel CAS has used these workload ranges to address increases in new cases.  For example, since 2010, Peel CAS has added more than 140 new frontline workers in response to service needs.  

“We are not seeking any increases in workload, nor are we looking for any concessions,” says Bains. “Union demands are to reduce individual workloads; however, making changes to workload will have a big financial impact on Agency costs. Our current offer to the union will increase our costs by $1.8 million each year.  Changes in workload as demanded by the Union could further increase costs by between $1 to $2 million each year.  We are not willing to reduce services to our community to meet Union demands.”

Worker safety is also a key priority for the Agency.  There are numerous health and safety policies and procedures in place to help keep staff safe. The Agency also has a Joint Health & Safety committee which is made up of union and management staff that review incidents and make suggestions, where needed,  for improvement or changes. There are also a number of programs to support staff such as Employee Assistance, Wellness and Peer Support programs.

“We are also aware of, and recognize, the preliminary findings of the CAS Workers at Risk 2014 Report on worker safety in Ontario CASs,” says Bains.  These initial recommendations are currently being reviewed by the provincial government. “The Union wants us to accept all recommendations before the report is released, and commit to implementing the recommendations within six months. We cannot take action until the recommendations are finalized by the provincial government. However we are committed to reviewing the recommendations to ensure the ongoing safety of our workers when the OACAS releases the final version of recommendations to all CASs.”

Adds Bains, “We recognize that a strike is not in best interest of the Agency, our clients, our community, and our employees; however, we do respect our employees’ right to strike.  We respect the work done by our employees and hope to be able to come to a collective agreement that will allow the Agency to continue to meet its mandate and get our employees back to what they do best: serving the community.”

Peel CAS is always willing to go back to the bargaining table.  “We put our best offer to CUPE, however, if CUPE is willing to negotiate on the outstanding items we are happy to return and try to reach an agreement,” adds Bains.

Please visit www.peelcas.org for further information and regular updates. If the public has concerns about the safety of a child or youth please continue to call 905-363-6131 or 1-888-700-0996.

 

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For further information, contact:

Lucie Baistrocchi at lbaistrocchi@peelcas.org or 905-363-6131 ext. 1153