Du Toit: "I want to be clear that we will not be laying off any front-line staff."

In December, we exclusively reported the ministry of children and family development would be looking at "fiscal restraint measures" as a result of the "economic situation in BC." At the time, deputy minister Lesley du Toit said some of that budget pressure would be managed through "natural staff attrition." But last week, it became apparent some of that budget pressure will also be managed by reducing the number of full-time equivalents at the ministry by 203 between now and fiscal 2011/12.

In an interview with The Times Colonist's Lindsay Kines, Tom Christensen said the jobs will be lost on the administrative side of the ministry. "So the reality here is we're not intending to lay people off," said the minister.

But, in an email to staff, his deputy Lesley du Toit was more specific: "I want to be clear that we will not be laying off any front-line staff," she wrote, promising to "work extremely hard to minimize impacts on staff at the provincial and regional level. All of our staff are important to us." The following is a complete copy of that email.

***

From: Erickson, Jennifer MCF:EX
Sent: Thu 19/02/2009 2:42 PM
To: MCF All Exchange mailboxes
Cc: Burns, Heather PAB:EX
Subject: Message on behalf of Deputy Minister Lesley du Toit

Hello Everyone:

In the last day or two you would have had an opportunity to hear the budget speech and read a letter from Jessica McDonald, the Deputy Minister to the Premier, regarding how government intends to balance fiscal realities with our ongoing and long term public service needs.

In spite of challenges, there is much to look forward to and plenty of hope for the future of our children and families, and indeed for our ministry and sector. Strong steps have been taken to manage budgets effectively and efficiently and to create opportunity for development. Regardless of the economic downturn, I believe this is what is expected of us at any time when we are accountable to the most vulnerable people in our province. The families and children we serve face untold challenges each day and yet demonstrate resilience and strength. Those challenges are about to become tougher. Our job is to continuously support them and stand with them as partners. Our priority is, and always will be, those who are most vulnerable in BC. To ensure we continue to be able to do this, we will protect front line services and will continue to recruit for front-line positions that are vacant. I want to be clear that we will not be laying off any front-line staff.

As a ministry and a sector we too have faced serious challenges before and demonstrated that our commitment to children and families does not waver. Our work to continue learning and improving our service delivery within the framework of Strong, Safe and Supported will continues. If we cannot demonstrate the effectiveness and resilience of our approach in challenging times, then it would not be an appropriate approach in the first place.

I want to reassure you that the Leadership Team and I understand how anxious the present economic situation must make you feel. I know that in spite of reassuring messages from all of us it is hard not to feel some measure of anxiety. While we cannot relieve you totally of that sense of uncertainty I can tell you that you will be kept fully informed of budget constraints and impacts and we will maximise every opportunity to engage you in finding effective solutions to the challenges we face.

You should each know that you and your family's well-being matter to me and the leadership team. The same applies to those children, youth and families we serve, as well as all those staff who work in various agencies. All decisions made will be done with thoughtfulness and consideration of potential impacts, and with maximum transparency. We will work extremely hard to minimize impacts on staff at the provincial and regional level. All of our staff are important to us.

If you need specific information as it applies to you or the work you do, please ask. You can approach your Directors of Integrated Practice, Directors of Operations, Regional Executive Directors, Assistant Deputy Ministers, Executive and Senior Directors at the provincial office, and me. The names of these leaders and where they are based is listed below. If we have the answers we will give them to you. If we don't, or we are unable to share information for very good reason, we will be honest about that and get back to you when more information is available. This applies as much to information on finances as it does to information on our work on implementing Strong, Safe and Supported.

I know that it is sometimes an added chore to read emails or look at the Deputy's Corner on the website, but please do keep an eye open for information which we will pass along to you. To this end, I have attached a fact sheet for your attention.

Regards,

Lesley
Deputy Minister
Children and Family Development

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