Coop cuts

The provincial government is looking to find $3.6 million in cost-savings from agencies contracted to do work for the ministry of children and family development, Public Eye has learned. In an unusual joint letter, the Jennifer Charlesworth, executive director of the federation representing many of those agencies, and the ministry's top bureaucrat Lesley du Toit announced their two organizations would be working together to identify those "efficiencies."

The announcement comes after an internal review that "redirected $32 million in administrative savings toward critical front line services for 2009/10."

In the letter, Mses. Charlesworth and du Toit wrote the government is "aware that contracted agencies already operate with lean administration."

As a result, the cost-savings won't just target administrative costs. Instead, the ministry and the federation will be "looking for opportunities to deliver services in new ways."

The federation and the ministry agreed to the collaborative approach, which will exclude statutory services, on July 22

"Our shared goal is to minimize service reductions and protect critical front line services by working together in these difficult economic conditions," concluded the letter, noting, "There will not be across the board funding cuts."

The following is a complete copy.


August 14, 2009

Dear Federation of Community Social Services Members,

As you are aware, the Ministry of Children and Family Development - like all ministries - is facing budget pressures. The ministry has undergone an internal review and redirected $32 million in administrative savings towards critical front line services for 2009/10. A further $3.6 million in costing savings needs to be identified in this fiscal year. With the majority of MCFD's services delivered through contracted service providers the ministry is looking to agencies delivering non-residential contracted services to help find these cost savings.

On July 22nd, the Federation, BCACDI and the ministry met to discuss the approach and establish a joint strategy on how best to address these budgetary challenges. Our collective goal is to find solutions that will have the least impact on direct services to the children, youth and families we serve.

There will not be across the board funding cuts. Instead, we agreed that there will be a collaborative approach between the ministry and its service partners to find solutions to our common fiscal challenges. The planned budget consultation will roll out in three phrases:

* The first was the meeting held on July 22, 2009.
* The second phase involves the recovery of unused funds. These are contract funds that have been disbursed to agencies, but where the goods or services have not been provided in the time period specified in the contract. The ministry is in the process of asking agencies to identify unused funds and advise their contract manager who will apply the funds in accordance with the contract. This process will take place between now and the end of September.
* In the third phase, the ministry, Federation and agencies will work together to find efficiencies. The ministry is aware that contracted agencies already operate with lean administration, therefore this consultation will need to be broader in scope than just targeting administrative costs. We will be looking for opportunities to deliver services in new ways, for example using technology better or integrating resources.

Please note that statutory services will be excluded from this consultation. If they have not already done so, within the next two weeks, regional MCFD staff will set up regional meetings or teleconferences to provide further information and answer any questions you may have.

We hope that these consultations will address the ministry's short-term budgetary needs. The Federation and ministry staff will communicate on a regular basis to monitor progress, exchange ideas, and discuss next steps.

Once the new budget is delivered in September, we will be in a better position to look at any long-term impacts on budgets, programs and services. The Federation and other provincial partners will meet with the ministry again in September to discuss longer-term strategies and ideas for going forward.

Our shared goal is to minimize service reductions and protect critical front line services by working together in these difficult economic conditions. We do hope that you will work with us to achieve this goal.

For more information please contact:

* MCFD: Regional Community Service Managers or your local contract manager.
* Federation: Jennifer Charlesworth, Executive Director

Lesley du Toit
Deputy Minister
Ministry of Children and Family Development

Jennifer Charlesworth
Executive Director
Federation of Community Social Services


Some suggestions:

#1. No paper printouts - all electronic going forward.

#2. Cut the grand victory statue and other tributes to Her Libertarian Majesty Mary Polak, MLA. That'll wait until Her Libertarian Majesty is Premier of the World!!!

#3. No new computers - buy only used and from local computer fix-up shops & instead of international comglomorates.

#4. Have people go home to print out portraits of the Premier & the Minister if they feel the need.

#5. Put in profit-making Tim Horton's francises in all available MCFD bases.

#6. No more paying jet fuel & maintenance & other stuff for Minister Polak's BCLib CF-18. She can send the BC Liberals the bill.

Question 1: What non-essential "administrative services" was MCFD spending that $32 million on all along while denying vital services to children on the grounds that there wasn't enough money in their budget?

Question 2: Why aren't families and parents of the children who are supposed to be the focus of it all not even being informed about any of this, or invited to participate in budget consultations? If it's about protecting crucial supports for our children and our families, surely our input would be somewhat relevant?

Question 3: Are they saying what I think they're saying - i.e. that this is just about trying to balance February's draft budget and that we won't know whether the real cuts are still to come until the revised budget is presented in September?

You can be sure that real (as in more, much more) cuts are coming.

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