On eve of possible layoffs, OPSEU and Runciman call for moratorium on job
cuts at BMHC

BROCKVILLE, ON, Jan. 25 /CNW/ - With layoffs looming at the Brockville Mental Health Centre, the Ontario Public Service Employees Union and local MPP Bob Runciman today called on Health Minister Deb Matthews to put an immediate moratorium on any further layoffs until the future of the facility is determined.

"All parties have demonstrated a determination to save jobs and services at the centre and what we need now is more time to work out an alternative use for the facility," said Dave Lundy, OPSEU regional vice president for eastern Ontario. "We're saying to Minister Matthews let's not slam the door shut on the BMHC, but instead let's use the time to study the implementation of alternative plans."

With the BMHC transitional unit set to close at the end of March 2011, layoff notices are imminent. It is feared that with these job losses, and more in the future, there will be a loss of expertise and services acquired working with clients at the site. Both OPSEU and Runciman want to avoid this outcome.

Runciman reiterated action he has taken in recent days.

"I have put forward a comprehensive plan to the Health Minister that would save jobs and add much-needed services to our community and this part of southeastern Ontario," said Runciman, MPP for Leeds-Grenville. "I, too, endorse a moratorium until such time that we can guarantee job security for those affected by the closure of the transitional unit."

Lundy and Runciman made their comments at a press conference in Brockville which was also attended by Local 439 president David McDougall, representing more than 400 full-and part-time employees at the facility.

Apart from the one-year moratorium, Runciman's plan presented to the Health Minister would also add forensic beds in Brockville; support a secure treatment unit for female offenders; and consider a facility on the BMHC site to provide alternative levels of care which would accommodate patients who are discharged from psychiatric hospital beds but who are not suitable candidates for long-term care beds.

OPSEU Local 439 president David McDougall said Runciman's plan is worthy of serious consideration and he called on Health Minister Matthews to impose the moratorium to give all sides time to study the MPP's proposal in greater detail.

"While we have concerns about some aspects of Mr Runciman's proposal, we think it represents a positive approach to fixing a serious issue that's been hanging over the heads of our members for too long," McDougall said.

SOURCE Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU)

For further information: For further information: Barry Raison, Executive Assistant to Bob Runciman, MPP, (613) 342-9522; David McDougall, President, OPSEU Local 431, (613) 349-1049

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