Peace Region’s social services running without enough resources, says BCGEU president

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After a tour through the Peace Region, BCGEU President Stephanie Smith took to her official blog to write about her experiences on the trip.

On Friday the credit union and public liquor store in Dawson Creek, staffed by BCGEU members, were hopping. The region sends considerable revenues to Victoria through resource royalties and taxes.

That is the vibrant, economically strong picture of The Peace. But visiting our frontline members in the region we also saw a different picture. Too many frontline workers continue to work in offices that are short staffed, with unreasonable workloads or caseloads, and insufficient resources. In this economically strong region, they are being asked “to do more with less”. Sound familiar?

Stephanie Smith spoke to Energetic City to elaborate of what she saw during her trip – telling us there was “a mixed bag” of the bustling Dawson Creek, Chetwynd, and Fort St. John, and quiet Tumbler Ridge.

However, there were apparent problems with resources for social services, said Smith. A large region like Northern BC has to have it’s resources ‘stretched thin’, which makes for fundamentally inefficient services.

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She says the drive to create efficiency is just creating more inefficiencies.

“A long with economic booms, come social challenges,” Smith said. “While we’re heavily focuses on infrastructure, I think we forget the social infrastructure.”

She said members of the BCGEU in social services told her they felt their resources were being cut, but now more people than ever were looking for help.

In the case of social services such as child protection, Smith says the BCGEU is ‘very concerned’ about the huge geographical areas workers are required to cover, the lack of delegated social workers, and the lack of administrative support staff that help them do the job they’re supposed to do.

“When you’re spending huge amounts of time on the road, you’re not actually doing the work you’re mandated to do. Of course the other challenge is that you have weather to contend with,” she said.

“As staffing levels decrease, it becomes even more onerous on those remaining to do the work they want to provide for their community.”

During the visit, Smith and her team went to two dozen work sites to meet with members.

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