LONDON — Mental health services at Regional Mental Health Centre – London and St. Thomas have been placed in jeopardy as a result of 20 layoffs announced yesterday.
The Ontario Public Service Employees Union received notice from the Regional Mental Health Centre that the positions will be gone effective May 12, 2011 due to budget restraint.
These positions include nurses, therapists, recreationist, social worker, clerical, dietary and housekeeping staff.
“The province just spent $495,000 to a private consultant to work on phase III of a 10-year mental health plan while on the ground mental health workers continue to lose their jobs,” says Warren (Smokey) Thomas, President of the 130,000-member public-sector union. “It’s getting harder and harder to believe the Ontario government is serious about improving mental health services.”
The only hairdresser serving clients at the centre is among those receiving layoff today, raising questions around how some patients will be able to maintain their grooming.
“It’s likely the families of patients will have to make arrangements at their own expense,” says Kim McDowell, President of OPSEU Local 152. “The kinds of activities that contribute to our patient’s dignity and self-worth are being eroded.”
Skills programming for patients at the centre will be reduced as both workshop activation therapists are losing their jobs.
The layoffs follow on the heels of the recent layoff of 28 child and youth workers at Whitby’s Ontario Shores in December.
Last November 85 staff left Regional Mental Health – London and St. Thomas as part of a transfer of beds to Grand River hospital in Cambridge.