Strike update: Children and Family Services


Workers with the CUPE Local 2577 bargaining unit representing about 93 child protection workers in Lanark, Leeds, and Grenville, were still on strike last week over a labour dispute. The strike began on July 12 after more than a year of negotiations failed to result in a deal agreeable to both sides. 

Also taking place last week was a solidarity rally, meant as a way for community members to show support for members of CUPE Local 2577. The solidarity rally took place on July 19 in Brockville. 

“While CUPE members remain focused on securing a deal that invests in services for children and families, they’re utilizing their strike to give back to their communities, hosting a series of free pop-up events for children and fundraising for local causes,” reads a press release. CUPE National President Mark Hancock and Secretary Treasurer Candace Rennick spoke at the rally, which also served to collect donations for the local chapter of Girls Inc.

Erin Lee Marcotte is the Executive Director of Family and Children’s Services of Lanark, Leeds and Grenville, a transfer payment agency mandated to deliver child welfare services under the Child, Youth and Family Services Act. She provided the Times with an update.

“The employer believes we have made a fair and reasonable offer to the union, particularly considering the significant financial constraints facing the agency and the continual decrease in operating funding from the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services,” said Erin.

“Our reasonable monetary offer may be less than the employees would desire, but it is in no way a reflection of the value we as an organization place on our employees. We understand the immense challenges our employees face in carrying out the extremely important and complex work of child welfare, and we hope we can come to a resolution over time.”

Meanwhile, union members and many third party agencies have decided that enough is enough. The Ontario Federation of Labour posted on its website: “In recent years, there’s been an exodus of staff from Family and Children’s Services of Lanark, Leeds, and Grenville. Dedicated, skilled workers with decades of experience are burning out. And new workers who’ve just entered the field with passion and enthusiasm to help families and communities are being chased out by unreasonable workloads. All of this means fewer people providing the support families need and fewer people checking in and intervening early before a child is hurt. While workers are struggling, management refuses to even acknowledge there is a problem.”

CUPE 2577 President Arlette Carrier gave an example of how the workers’ compensation has been steadily falling behind – while gas prices increased 51 per cent in the last 17 years, the workers’ reimbursement for mileage expenses rose by just 4 per cent over the same period. “We’re struggling working day and night and weekends just to keep kids safe,” Arlette said. “That’s our primary job and they’re asking us to do stuff that we just don’t have the time for and it’s just not necessary. Houses are on fire and they’re asking us to polish the silver.”

Service delivery was impacted by the strike, but as of last week, essential services were not being impacted, and a contingency plan was put in place to ensure the continued immediate safety of children and youth.

As this is an evolving news story, readers are encouraged to check for updates on whether a deal has been reached. 


  1. It would take a province wide CAS strike to get the province’s attention. These are some of the most at-risk people in our society. They can only hope the adults figure out that CAS is a crucial agency.


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