GODERICH, March 5, 2012 /CNW/ - The Ontario government's decision to close the Bluewater Youth Centre in Goderich will have a devastating impact on the town, the workers and families in the area that have young people involved in the system.
OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas says this announcement will shatter the economy of Goderich, a town that has already dealt with a natural disaster less than a year ago.
"Goderich was nearly destroyed by a tornado last summer, now they're about to endure an economic tornado that will impact every segment of this community," Thomas said. "Nearly 200 good-paying jobs are about to be ripped out of the area, leaving nothing in their wake."
OPSEU is also denouncing the Ministry of Children and Youth Services for leaking the closure to the media prior to telling the staff at the facility that the centre would be shut down.
"Over the weekend, staff at the facility found out through the media and Twitter that a closure announcement was coming," Thomas said. "This is was completely disrespectful to our members and their families, whose lives are going to be changed forever.
Glenna Caldwell, elected provincial representative for OPSEU members working in the youth justice system, said that there are alternatives to the complete closure of the Bluewater facility.
"There are many small open-custody and transfer payment facilities that could have their operations transferred to Bluewater," Caldwell said. "We have trained, expert staff that can deal with youth issues, and the province would save money by amalgamating these smaller agencies."
Caldwell also says that the families of the youth at Bluewater will be adversely affected by this closure. "The very foundation of youth justice issues centers on involving families in the young person's programs," Caldwell said. "Many of the youth at Bluewater come from the surrounding area. This closure means they will be moved hundreds of miles from their communities, and cut off from the supports provided by their families."
For further information:
Don Ford, OPSEU Communications 416-448-7442