Social workers face difficult challenges in protecting families - BCGEU

Vancouver Sun

Mon Jan 15 2018

Section: Opinion

Byline: Stephanie Smith

Source: Vancouver Sun


Re: Social services, the courts fail another B.C. family, Ian Mulgrew column, Jan. 4.

While the B.C. Government and Service Employees Union understands and shares Ian

Mulgrew's outrage over the recent death of two young children in Oak Bay, we believe

his column misdirects his anger onto social workers, who deeply care about the families

in their care.


What is missing from his column is an acknowledgment of the extremely difficult work

environment social workers face. A 2015 survey of BCGEU members exposed many of

the systemic problems faced by social workers.


Nearly half of social workers surveyed reported over 30 active cases, with 10 per cent

reporting over 70 per month. Nearly a third were also carrying another worker's caseload

at the same time.


The reality is, severe staffretention problems continue to plague this ministry and are an

ongoing challenge for front-line workers who struggle to manage high workloads. B.C.

social workers need the public's support and continued reinvestment from government

to fully fulfil their mandate. While the BCGEU has welcomed important new

commitments by government in recent months, substantially more can be done to

strengthen the workforce in child and family services.


Social workers are among the most dedicated professionals and they work extremely

hard to protect B.C. families - they're devastated when a tragic death occurs in our

province. At times like this, without the benefit of a full investigation, columns that claim

"the child protection authorities once again failed miserably," do nothing to further the

public understanding of the challenges faced by social workers every day.


Stephanie Smith
president, BCGEU


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