Fingers point back and forth over resignation

Weaving through the articles on the resignations at Brant Family and Children’s Services (BFACS), the blame for the resignation of the agency’s board of directors has gone back and forth between agency and ministry voices and circled back to political decisions.

Apparently on Friday, July 12, social workers from Brant Family and Children’s Services (BFACS) and their supporters protested in front of their office after their executive director was placed on leave.

The demonstration was organized following an announcement from the agency’s volunteer board of directors that every member was resigning because they could no longer fulfil their mandate due to government cuts.

Something which appears to be at odds with Ontario’s desire to curb deficit spending is that Brant FACS has also been about $3 million in debt over the last couple of years.

It has become apparent that the BFACS hasn’t had any problems with finances until 2017.

In 2017, the ministry “removed” $780,000 from the BFACS budget to give to the new Six Nations child protection service, Ogwadeni:deo.

Board chair of BFACS Paul Wittam told the Expositor that all of their financial difficulties began and have continued due to the development of Ogwadeni:deo, as the organization also received start up funding.

However, the union also “said” BFACS executive director Andy Koster was forced to resign from his role last Friday.

But, the ministry disagreed. The ministry said that Dr. Bernadette Gallagher, the individual appointed by the ministry to take Koster’s place simply “exercised her power as the Supervisor as legislated in the Child Youth and Family Services Act” and placed him “on leave for the time being.”

According to the Brantford Expositor, the rest of the board felt that there was no alternative to resignation as individual directors would have become financially responsible for the agency’s sizeable deficit.

Yet, in a statement quoted by CTV News, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services insisted multiple governments have tried to help the situation.

In fact, the ministry and the Board participated in an operational review which was completed in June 2019, and the review raised several significant concerns.

CTV News’ report suggests that the concerns that have been brought about through the review included a decrease in the number of investigations carried out by BFACS in recent years (by 20 per cent), and an apparent surplus of full-time employees as the number of full-time employees is numbered at 29 more than the average of other comparable societies.

But what’s more, Koster told the Huffington Post that because the opioid crisis has hit Brantford particularly hard, BFACS actually has more children in its care than it did a year ago.

However, CTV News’ report suggests that there is a reported lack of evidence of a connection between the opioid crisis and the BFACS’ financial problems.

As for Ogwadeni:deo, Taking Care of Our Own, an agency that has it’s own reflection of values and principles based on the traditions of the Haudenosaunee people which can’t be found within the BFACS system.

The very same systems that were once vehemently used to strip indigenous children of who they are have not been forgotten, but that is why regardless, indigenous children deserve to be cared for by their own people. Bottom line, it is so that they can have the influences of who they are at their cores made available to them.

Through this situation and what has been compiled through reading many articles, it might be easy to recognize that the acts of resignation at BFACS might have been motivated out of those finances being moved to Ogwadeni:deo.

Especially since BFACS apparently hasn’t taken any of the governmental help to alleviate their financial situation.

At least, that’s what someone reading this mess can conclude.

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