Another blow for children’s mental health – 28 specialized workers given layoff notice at Whitby’s Ontario Shores

WHITBY – Twenty-eight full and part-time child and youth workers are facing layoff at Ontario Shores (formerly Whitby Mental Health Centre) despite four decades of success with some of the province’s most difficult to place youth.

The Ontario Shores Adolescent Residential Rehab program has turned around the lives of youth who had previously found the province’s mental health system a revolving door. The program provides therapy to youth for periods of up to six months in a residential setting. Most of the youth in the program have had three to seven prior hospitalizations. Last year there was an average wait of 44 days to get into the program.

While the hospital has told patient family members that the program is merging with the shorter stay transition program, the large layoff suggests the staff mix is being altered away from highly trained child and youth workers to more general health care nursing staff.

“These workers graduate from a three year accredited program that looks at everything from child-protection legislation and children’s rights to therapeutic recreational programming and advanced therapeutic interventions,” says Warren (Smokey) Thomas, President of the 130,000-member Ontario Public Service Employees Union. “They will be soon replaced by general nursing staff who have been given very little of this specific training. How does that improve quality?”

The union is also concerned that fewer long term beds will be available for youth in need.

Two-thirds of youth in the program come from outside the boundaries of the Local Health Integration Network, suggesting how unique it is within the province’s mental health continuum.

The union is concerned that lives are being endangered by a short-sighted move that will likely not save money.

“For these youth, this program ended the revolving door,” says Thomas. “Instead any minimal savings from this action will likely be multiplied many times over as costs to elsewhere in the system.”

OPSEU has written to the Minister of Health and Long Term Care asking that the program be left intact and expanded to meet need. It has also asked the Minister to assure families that quality of care will not be jeopardized by replacing these skilled workers with staff who do not possess similar skill sets.

Coverage from CHEX-TV:

2 responses to “Another blow for children’s mental health – 28 specialized workers given layoff notice at Whitby’s Ontario Shores

  1. This is only the tip of the iceberg as far as Ontario Shores goes, the entire facility is running on a skeleton staff so that the overpaid third floor employees can all enjoy a hefty Christmas bonus to themselves yet again. They did the same thing last year, countless layoffs in January only to replace the jobs with students (CO-OP not paid) and contract workers. The entire laundry department was shut down, which has been outsourced to a company that can’t do anything right. Not to mention the bedbug issue that keeps being downplayed and of course has been “cleared” numerous times only to have further outbreaks. If the inspectors actually looked past the front doors of the main wards they would see the horrible heath and safety issues hiding in patient rooms/bathrooms/shower rooms etc. It is not uncommon for drywall to be falling apart, floors peeling up (which were replaced but they were too cheap to wax might I add). Oh I could go on for days…. but hey they don’t need more workers there, because that might cut into the CEO’s pocket a bit which must grow each year to feed the financial hunger! Nurses are massively understaffed and over-worked, housekeepers well lets just say that the full timers are scared for their jobs, and the part timers get 2-4 shifts a month as a way to say Merry Christmas, all the while the hospital gets filthier and more unsanitary as the majority of staff cannot even remotely have the time in a day to keep up after the constant mess. But you won’t read that anywhere else, because we are all supposed to keep our mouths shut or face legal action/firing…. I am embarrassed for the poor patients and their families to know what the conditions are like, and also to know the amount of money that is spent on the financially blessed while the rest of the building crumbles.

  2. From a Member: I guess that what the CEO and media says must be true then right guys? I gather the daft government pawns never think to go further and actually ask random employees what things are like instead of the chipper folk driving the expensive cars and collecting the massive christmas bonus. Yeah I guess things are just great, seeing as half of us are losing our jobs or already have… I wonder where they pull this nonsense out of….

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