The decision affecting the Brockville Mental Health Centre is a stunning blow to the community and the area economy, says Warren (Smokey) Thomas.
Brockville (6 July 2009) - The Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU/NUPGE) is working to reverse the announced closure of 90 beds at Brockville Mental Health Centre and the resulting layoff of over 240 mental health workers.
Calling the development a stunning blow to the community and the area economy, OPSEU president Warren (Smokey) Thomas is demanding that the Liberal government of Premier Dalton McGuinty restore funding to keep the beds open.
“In 1997, the Harris Conservatives recommended the closure of this facility and it didn’t happen because these services are vital to Eastern Ontario,” Thomas notes. "Now they plan to cut beds because the McGuinty government refuses to make up a $3 million shortfall in funding to the area Local Health Integration Network (LHIN). It’s outrageous.”
Thomas says OPSEU offered for more than a year to help lobby for additional funding on behalf of the hospital but the union was ignored.
“I was told by George Weber, president and CEO of Royal Ottawa Health Care Group, that this was all secret so we couldn’t help. This ‘secret’ has resulted in devastating cuts to patient services and jobs that this area desperately needs. I guess the government would rather pay out nearly a million dollars in severance to one person in E-Health than spend $3 million to save services and 240 full-time jobs.”
David McDougall, president of OPSEU Local 439 at Brockville, says the bed closures will seriously harm mental health services in the area.
“Over the next 18 months, we are going to lose some of the most highly skilled mental health workers in this country while Ottawa and Kingston gets a few additional jobs,” McDougall says.
“This is the time to be investing in services like these, not making blind cuts based on nothing but figures on a balance sheet. Health Minister David Caplan needs to seriously re-think his priorities on mental health care in Ontario.”
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE