FACS merge with Kenora moving ahead

Peggy Revell

A merger of Family and Children Services here with the Kenora-Patricia Child and Family Services hinges on the provincial government picking up the tab for the amalgamation and the debt load of FACS.
The proposed amalgamation has received “approval in principle” from the Ontario Ministry of Children and Youth Services, FACS board chair Bob McGreevy, who also heads the amalgamation leadership team, noted at a press conference yesterday morning.
While the Kenora-Patricia board has approved a motion to begin formal amalgamation talks, its executive director said the move comes with the caveat that this new organization not be burdened with the deficit or debt of FACS, or the cost of amalgamation.
The estimated cost of the amalgamation is about $900,000 so far, noted Leonard, though adding the province hasn’t agreed to an exact figure and wants the two organizations to work to reduce that figure.
Almost half of those costs stem from the potential legal fees that come from having two different unions, Leonard explained.
“If things go swimmingly, which is always my hope, then that cost would be lessened by a large amount,” he remarked. “But plan for the worst, hope for the best, I guess that’s been our strategy.
The push to amalgamate comes after FACS, along with numerous other Children’s Aid Societies across the province, faced significant deficits over the past year.
Despite one-time mitigating
funding from the province, McGreevy said FACS will face a deficit of around $900,000 up until the amalgamation—set for April 1, 2011.
“So our hope is that the ministry will find some solution to get rid of that $900,000 and then as of April 1, the combined agency will be able to live within its means,” he noted.
Annual savings every year going forward following the amalgamation will be an estimated $400,000, said Leonard.
And once amalgamated, Leonard vowed the new organization would operate within the existing funding allocations from the government—pointing to how “economy of scale” will kick in with the larger organization.
Leonard added there will be no full-time union layoffs and no full-time management layoffs with the amalgamation.
“There are a number of positions that have been affected, but we’ve been able to re-assign them to other places with the organization or have offered a re-assignment,” he said about the combined staffing levels that are estimated to be at 250 full-time and 100 casual workers.
Leonard himself will remain as executive director while Vik Nowak, the current executive director at FACS, will become director of service within the new organization.
Changes to the “back-end services”—finance directors, executive directors, personnel directors—are where the “major savings” will come from, noted Leonard, stressing there will be no reduction of services or front-line staff by either agency.
Because FACS is an integrated agency that provides voluntary services and children’s mental health services (unlike KPCFS), these also will remain in operation following the amalgamation.
As well, since KPCFS has a number of programs which FACS doesn’t offer, there is the potential for these services to be extended southwards, Leonard said.
No name has been chosen yet for the proposed new organization.