Terry Haffner with the stump of the tree planted in his father’s memory.
“It felt like digging up his grave,” said Terry Haffner.
A housekeeper at Kingston’s Providence Care, Haffner was disturbed to find a memorial garden to long-serving staff had been cut down and the plaques removed by the hospital without any notice to the families of the deceased or the union who had represented them.
One of those deceased staff members was Terry’s dad Neil, who had worked at the former Kingston Psychiatric hospital from 1961 to his retirement in 1993. Neil passed away in 1996.
When Neil’s tree was planted, his son kept it watered and tended in the early days until it grew hardy enough to withstand the extremes in weather so close to the lake.
It was Terry’s father who told him to apply for a job at the mental health centre in the 1980s. His dad recognized that the heavy construction work his son was doing at the time would be difficult to maintain as he got older. For many years they travelled to work together.
As Kingston’s Providence Care prepares to shed nearly a fifth of its workforce and close beds at the former Kingston Psychiatric Hospital, there have been a number of media stories this week providing clear evidence capacity for mental health services in Canada is already woefully inadequate.
Yesterday CTV reported that Canada’s police chiefs called upon government to step up support for mental health services.
Association President Jim Chu of the Vancouver Police services said the number of people apprehended in that city under the Mental Health Act has more than quadrupled since 2002.
“We went from the agency of last resort to the mental health service agency of first resort,” Chu told CTV. “And that’s wrong. That’s failing those who are mentally ill and who deserve better care.”
About 80 mental health workers and their supporters braved the bitter cold February 1 to raise concerns about the impact of cuts on Providence Care Mental Health Centre in Kingston.
While both Federal and Provincial governments have made promises about addressing Canada’s inadequate mental health care, the reality on the ground is that more beds are being cut and too few services are being established in the community.
When Providence Care Mental Health Care gets merged with St. Mary’s Of The Lake, the new privatized hospital will have 72 fewer beds than presently exist, yet demand for mental health care is rising.
Kingston workers brave the cold February 1 to stand up for mental health care.
OPSEU Regional VP Dave Lundy is interviewed by CKWS TV.
Workers say units are overcrowded and too few resources are available.