Says province privatizing service kills 45 public-sector jobs
The province’s largest public sector union is calling out the government on its decision to privatize foster-care services for children and youth previously provided by three group homes employing union members.
In a news release issued Tuesday, the Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Public and Private Employees (NAPE) said the province’s decision to award contracts to private companies will leave 45 public sector workers without jobs.
“This is clearly a decision by government to privatize publicly operated group homes and lay off public employees,” said NAPE president Carol Furlong in the news release. “It is astounding that in the recent provincial budget government indicated it would not be laying off public employees while decisions were being made in the back rooms to do just that.”
Last month, the Department of Child, Youth and Family Services (CYFS) announced it had negotiated contracts totalling $36 million with four groups to provide 101 residential placements for children and youth with complex needs.
According to NAPE, three group homes employing its members will be affected by the contracts — T.J. MacDonald Achievement Home in Marystown, Pine Heights Group Home in Grand Falls-Windsor and the Bay St. George Youth Assessment Centre in Stephenville.
“Some of the affected employees have over 20 years of service providing care to troubled youth with various complex needs. Their years of experience and expertise will be going out the door as a result of government’s decision to privatize these public services,” said Furlong. “The clients will suffer from a lack of continuity of care and will experience a major upheaval as they try and deal with new workers and a new home environment.”
Speaking to reporters Tuesday afternoon outside the House of Assembly, CYFS Minister Paul Davis said the process for awarding those contracts was about providing the best opportunities for service possible.
“Last February, we notified service providers we wanted to go through a competitive process. We notified the union NAPE, the union representing employees of most or all of the service providers, and over the last year we’ve gone through that process, which resulted in us awarding contracts to four service providers.”
He noted all four service providers contracted — Key Assets, Blue Sky, Waypoints and Shalom — have experience providing services to the department at staffed residential placements. Three of the four groups contracted employ NAPE members, added Davis.
“We’ve gone through a competitive process with the goal of providing the best services possible for children and youth, and we recognize that for some of these children, there’s going to be changes that take place.”
Davis said all children and youth affected by the changes will stay in their current communities. Blue Sky is the company now contracted to serve those areas. Davis told reporters Blue Sly is working now to secure accommodations for the children and youth it will look after and that transition plans are in place for all those affected by the changes.