Dilico Strike Locks Out Families

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Families rally at the Dilico Child Care offices in 2013
Families rally at the Dilico Child Care offices in 2013
Family members put down their signs to talk with Dilico management
Family members put down their signs to talk with Dilico management

THUNDER BAY – The Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada (CEP Local 7-0) began strike activities at Dilico Anishinabek Family Care on Monday, July 8, 2013. That strike is continuing. Dilico Management states, “Dilico Anishinabek Family Care’s detailed Contingency Plan is working smoothly and efficiently to ensure the provision of essential services to its children and families during the labour dispute. Dilico is working closely with its partners – First Nations and community service agencies – to minimize the effects the strike action will have on clients”.

“Our priority continues to be providing essential services for the safety, well-being and stability of our children and families,” said Darcia Borg, Acting Executive Director of Dilico Anishinabek Family Care, “Staff are ensuring that reports of neglect and harm are responded to immediately.”

Dilico Strike Locks out Families

Both sides, management, and labour continue to advocate that they are right. The issue for families impacted by the strike continue however. One young mother has not seen her four month old baby for three weeks. It is an important time in the family for parents seeking a path back to see their children. Unless visitation is court-ordered, right now families are on the outside.

In a media release, Dilico reports, “As a multi-faceted organization, Dilico focuses on three service areas; Child Welfare, Health and Mental Health and Addictions. Dilico’s cooperative and collaborative approach includes counseling, traditional healing, infant child development, substance abuse treatment and much more. At Dilico, caseloads and management ratios throughout  its services are consistent with other children’s aid societies, and health and mental health providers in Ontario. Dilico follows evidence-based best practices and has always worked to address these issues as they have been raised”. 

Family Visits Off

One of the effects of the strike has been to reduce the frequency of access visits. Court ordered visits, sibling access visits, and foster parent/biological parent visits are occurring.  Visitation access is reviewed weekly for all cases. 

On Friday, July 12, Dilico’s Main Office was the site of a Community Demonstration. More than 50 children and families assembled peacefully and were invited inside by Dilico to discuss their concerns. A process to continue the dialogue has been put in place. Dilico however refuses to discuss what efforts are underway to facilitate bringing families back together. Sources tell NNL that communication remains very poor between Dilico and impacted families.

“We understand the concerns of the parents of children impacted by the strike. Our priority is ensuring that essential services are provided. ” said Ms. Borg, “Dilico has been providing for the safety, well-being and stability of our children and families for 27 years. We are continually refining and enhancing our programs and services.” 

Dilico management states, “As a publically funded agency, Dilico operates within a governance framework to ensure that there is accuracy, transparency and accountability to all stakeholders including board members, funding organizations and the general public. Dillico’s funding has been fixed for the next three years. The agency is not permitted to operate a deficit”. 

“It’s important that any discussion with our employees be constructive. Resolving issues and bridging the gap between the parties can only be achieved through meaningful and honest dialogue.” said Ms. Borg. “The Union has indicated a desire to meet and we have responded positively. Both parties have agreed to meet on Tuesday, July 23rd and we are hopeful that by working in good faith a settlement can be reached.”

Incorporated in 1986, Dilico Anishinabek Family Care provides a range of responsive individual, family and community programs and services for the complete life journey of all Anishinabek people. As an integral health provider, Dilico’s service area includes the Fort William First Nation and First Nation communities in the Robinson-Superior Treaty area. The agency states it is is committed to incorporating traditional Aboriginal values and beliefs in its service delivery.

As the strike continues it appears there are no winners, and the biggest losers are the parents, grandparents, and children.

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