Stop closure of Brockville Mental Health Centre, OPSEU tells legislative hearing in Ottawa

    OTTAWA, Sept. 9 /CNW/ - The president of Ontario Public Service Employees
Union told an all-party committee in Ottawa today that it makes no economic
sense to shut down the Brockville Mental Health Centre, killing as many as 250
jobs, in a community that already fails to meet the increasing needs of those
who suffer from mental health problems.
    "At a time when we're supposed to be experiencing infrastructure
building, the government is dismantling a vital part of the local
infrastructure," OPSEU president Warren (Smokey) Thomas told the provincial
legislative all-party committee studying mental health and addiction issues.
    "We do not accept that by closing down the Brockville Mental Health
Centre we are improving local mental health treatment. We do not accept
destroying 250 jobs," Thomas told committee members in a prepared statement.
    "And we certainly do not accept that the lives of workers and the
treatment of patients should be tossed overboard by an unelected body (the
Local Health Integrated Network) who needn't justify their decisions in the
court of public accountability."
    Thomas was joined at the hearing by OPSEU Local 439 president David
MacDougall who represents workers at the BMHC, which is scheduled to close its
doors permanently in March 2011. OPSEU has mounted an aggressive campaign to
stop the closure and to protect any transfer of jobs to Ottawa through the
Human Resource Labour Adjustment Plan.
    He said it made no sense to kill 250 skilled and well-paying jobs in
Brockville during an economic recession, in a community which is already
suffering from job layoffs in the private sector.
    OPSEU, the Ontario Medical Association and the City of Brockville have
each adopted the position that there must be a one-year moratorium on the
closing the BMHC until a task force studying rural and northern health care
services submits its findings and recommendations to the Minister of Health
and Long Term Care.
    Thomas also pointed out that it will cost more - $26 million - to
eliminate 250 jobs, than to spend $20 million to upgrade the current facility
at BMHC to meet the needs of some of the most vulnerable residents of
Brockville and area.
    And he again criticized George Weber, CEO of the Royal Ottawa Health Care
Group, for his refusal to implement a human resource labour adjustment plan to
accommodate any job transfers to his facility in the event the Brockville
centre is closed down.

For further information:

For further information: Greg Hamara, OPSEU Communications, (647)
238-9933 (cell)

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