Executive director of Brant children's services walked out amidst funding controversy
Chase Banger, CTV Kitchener
Published Friday, July 12, 2019 12:13PM EDT
The former executive director stands by the Brant Family and Children's Services board of directors' decision to resign, even if it cost him his job.
Earlier this week, the service's entire board of directors announced it would be resigning over what it calls unmanageable funding cuts.
In a press release, the board claimed that "government underfunding has put the safety of our community's vulnerable children at risk."
The release says the agency has received less and less funding since 2016, leading to pay freezes, layoffs and understaffing.
But the province says that the money issues fell on the organization's mismanagement, not its lack of cash.
"In fact, our ministry and the Board participated in an operational review, completed in June 2019," said press secretary Christine Wood. "The review raised several significant concerns which our ministry is addressing."
She listed a number of issues, including the apparent dropping number of investigations, a surplus of employees compared to other similar agencies and a lack of evidence showing a strong connection between the opioid issues in Brant and the agency's financial constraints.
On Thursday, Wood told CTV that a supervisor would be immediately appointed following the board's resignation. That supervisor would operate and manage the agency's affairs.
The ministry announced Friday that it had appointed Bernadette Gallagher to the supervisory role for the agency.
In a letter sent to the community earlier this week, former Brant FACS executive director Andy Koster says he stands by the board's decision.
"As Executive Director, I completely support the actions of the Board of Directors, while recognizing that this may also result in the government taking over the Agency and my dismissal," the letter reads in part.
According to a source, who did not want to be named, that reality has been realized: the source says that Ministry of Children reportedly stepped in on Friday morning and fired Koster.
For its part, the ministry says that Koster was placed on leave when Gallagher was appointed.
Jennifer Kirby, union president of CUPE Local 181, confirmed the information at a rally being held in Brantford on Friday afternoon.
"He has had a 47-year career. He spent his entire life fighting for families and children, and I think part of him at first was discouraged because this was how it was ending," she says.
She says the union wanted to applaud him for taking "a fight for children and families" to the end.