Talk to my ministers, Eves tells Children's Aid
Toronto — Premier Ernie Eves has told the province's cash-strapped Children's Aid societies to meet with two of his ministers as part of the government's preparations for its upcoming budget.
"Certainly I would hope that Brenda [Elliott, the minister of Family Services] would sit down and talk with the Children's Aid societies," Eves said, "and, for that matter, they would sit down and talk with [Finance Minister] Janet Ecker as she leads up [to] her budget."
Fifty of the province's 52 Children's Aid societies are facing a cash shortfall.
"There are always needs in that area," Eves said at a hospital funding announcement Monday. "There will never be enough money to accommodate everybody's needs or concerns."
Children's Aid societies across Ontario are struggling to pay their foster parents as they face severe budget shortfalls. Some may not be able to pay foster parents come February and March.
Provincially, the agencies have combined deficits that could run to between $80 million and $100 million. The province has allocated $938 million for child welfare.
In recent years, a number of inquests into the deaths of children known to the agencies sparked a reform of the system. The subsequent legislation lists neglect, not just physical abuse, as a reason for social workers to remove children from homes.
As a result, a new funding formula was put in place and the budget for the province's Children's Aid societies has doubled over the past six years.
But agencies say they still can't afford to shelter the rising number of children being placed in care, which has jumped by 40 per cent over the past six years.
As of last September, 17,463 children were living as wards of the province.