Budget cuts force children’s aid layoffs in opioid-ravaged Brant, Ont.
CTVNews.ca Staff, with a report from CTV Kitchener's Max Wark
Published Tuesday, March 12, 2019 9:58PM EDT
In a city that’s been hit hard by Ontario’s opioid epidemic, things are going to get a little tougher for the organizations that help the community’s most vulnerable.
Brant Family and Children’s Aid Society CEO Andy Koster says that 25 union positions and an undetermined amount of managers will be let go as of April 1 as the society is forced to cut $1.7 million.
Under the previous provincial government, a new children’s aid society was put into place. While the funding formula for agencies like the Brant Family and Children’s Aid Society didn’t change, the total available dollars did.
It’s unwelcome news, as the organization tries to keep up with unprecedented numbers of cases due to opioids.
“I’ve never seen anything approaching this,” Koster told CTV Kitchener.
In 2017 Brantford and the surrounding County of Brant saw the highest hospital admissions due to opioids in the province. And while newly formed task forces have helped lower opioid rates below the provincial average, it remains an issue.
Koster says that one in four of the agency’s cases is the direct result of opioids, with several of the affected children addicted at birth and older children bearing the scars of their parent’s drug use and possible deaths.
With more than 400 open cases and limited foster homes, the cuts will make an already difficult situation even worse.
“I realize there’s always efficiencies to be made, but when I see drastic cuts like this that are going to affect the lives of these kids that are already in trouble, I find that really hard to take,” Koster said.
“The Ministry can say ‘do these cuts,’ but I have to live with the consequences of my actions.”