MCFD staff rally in Downtown Vancouver to demand change

The union representing front-line workers with the Ministry of Children and Family Development says inadequate pay and chronic staffing challenges are causing children and youth to fall through the cracks.

About three dozen social workers gathered on Hamilton Street in Vancouver, near MLA Sam Sullivan’s office, for a midday rally.

Doug Kinna, the Social, Information and Health Vice-President for the BC Government and Service Employees’ Unions, said their work conditions are deteriorating.

“Their caseload is way above the Canadian average because there’s not enough of them,” Kinna said.

Report: MCFD Chronically Underfunded

He says unless conditions change, workers will keep on leaving and there’s no hope they’ll ever come back.

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“When you look at them on an hourly salary, they’re eighth in Canada,” Kinna said. “They hire 100 and 98 leave. That’s over one year. So, their retention problems are huge, but they refuse to address that.”

READ MORE: B.C. foster parents say ministry blackballed them for speaking out

In 2015, a comprehensive review of the ministry highlighted front-line worker wages, saying they were too low. However, the union says, since an independent review of the MCFD in 2015 by former civil servant Bob Plecas, there has not been a significant increase to wages.

In an email to Global News, Minister Stephanie Cadieux said,”we have been making changes to address workloads by adding staff, changing how we do our work, and taking some of the administrative duties out of the hands of the front-line so they can focus on direct services to clients.”

But the union says that’s a backwards approach.

“You stabilize the front and then start looking at what you can do at the back,” Kinna says.