The 20 remaining staff at Victoria Youth Custody Services received layoff notices today as required by the employment security provisions of the collective agreement.
More than 70 staff received notices in June that their jobs were being eliminated from the Ministry of Children and Family Development youth justice system. Since that time, the placement process has seen many of these workers placed in other positions in government or paid severance. The remaining regular workers who were issued layoff notices today have additional rights to move into other jobs.
“Our collective agreement provides solid protections for all of the regular staff impacted by this closure,” says BCGEU president Stephanie Smith. “However the closure of the centre and the loss of the important services it provides are a real blow to the community. This is a short-sighted decision that will expose vulnerable youth to even greater risks."
Opposition to the VYCS closure has come from a broad base of stakeholders including B.C.’s Representative for Children and Youth, Victoria’s mayor, chief of police, legal experts and retired judiciary. B.C. aboriginal leaders have been particularly vocal in their opposition to the closure.
Government documents obtained by the BCGEU also revealed that Stephanie Cadieux, the Minister of Children and Family Development, was briefed on plans to close the facility despite her public reassurances that there were no plans to close VYCS.
The government has yet to announce a final closure date for the facility or to engage in discussions about alternate uses for the facility after it closes.
“The government should examine how the VYCS facility can be repurposed to provide mental health and addictions services to adults or youth. These services are in short supply across the province and this facility was designed to provide these resources,” says Smith. ‘We also have experienced staff who can deliver them.”