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Union and ministry meet to discuss services to Aboriginal children and youth

Representatives of BCGEU met with Ministry of Children and Family Development representatives on Monday, January 18 to address systemic challenges in supporting Aboriginal children and youth. The meeting followed up on the union's report, Closing the circle: a case for reinvesting in Aboriginal child, youth and family services. The report, released in October, gave voice to members' concerns about their working conditions across B.C. in the area of services to Aboriginal children and youth.

"We heard clearly from our members that more needs to be done to support Aboriginal children and youth in B.C.," said Doug Kinna, Vice President of the union's Social, Information and Health Services component. "The information we received at the meeting showed us that the ministry is aware of the challenges and is taking action to address them. We will continue to work through our joint union-ministry working group to make sure our members' views are understood and reflected in the ministry's plans."

The meeting also discussed the conditions of BCGEU members who work for delegated Aboriginal agencies. "These workers are carrying out the work delegated by the ministry, but do not have the same working conditions as their ministry counterparts because they're covered by a different collective agreement," said Andrea Duncan, Vice President of the union's Community Social Services component. "This is one of the systemic issues that makes recruitment and retention of workers a challenge - and has an impact on services to children and youth."

"The service delivery model is complex and presents challenges, but what is clearly needed is additional funding to this sector to address the sheer need," said Paul Finch, Treasurer of the BCGEU. "We will be looking to the B.C. government to commit to this ministry in the upcoming provincial budget."

The union and MCFD continue to meet regularly in a working group to exchange ideas and ensure that frontline workers have the opportunity to provide input on key issues faced by the ministry, including challenges in recruitment and retention, workplace safety, and workload.