Service cutbacks at Children’s Mental Health Services will have a severe impact on continuous care and disrupt any progress achieved by children and their families, warns the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), representing front-line social service workers at the agency in Belleville, which also serves clients and their families living in Trenton, Picton, Madoc, Bancroft and surrounding areas.
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“According to management, these cuts are being made to offset the agency’s deficit,” said Joyce Aman, unit chair of CUPE 3314.3. “Clients and their families will lose the continuous care they rely on, their programs will be disrupted, they will lose the momentum of their progress, and they will not have direct professional care on weekends, when the impact of these cuts will be felt the most.”
The proposed cuts will have a direct impact on the Therapeutic Residential Treatment program that the agency offers to children with mental health issues, aged between eight and fifteen years. Currently the in-demand program offers professional staff and full service, seven days a week to children and their families. With the proposed cuts, these services will not be available on weekends. “Essentially, clients will not have the regular staff, who know their situation and any progress that they’ve made, to help them on the weekends,” continued Aman. “Mental health issues, like other health issues, do not take the weekends off, that is why our programs and our services are offered seven days a week – it is not clear to us how the service deficit on the weekends, due to the cuts, will now be managed. But for sure, services to clients will be severely impacted – there will be no continuous care.”
The cuts will also affect families in Bancroft using the Family Preservation Program, which offers intensive services to families and children dealing with mental health issues. CUPE 3314.3 represents 60 social service workers who provide community services, including individual and family therapy, treatment and prevention programs, crisis counseling, case consultation services, intensive in-home services, community development and education and after hours crisis, and other services for children with mental health issues.
“These cuts are to take place in April but we are asking the Ontario government to step in and stop these cuts, that will hurt the children and families that we are supposed to be helping,” concluded Aman.
Joyce Aman, CUPE 3314.3 Unit Chair: 613-438-7080
Cheri Dobbs, CUPE National Representative: 613-542-2069
James Chai, CUPE Communications: 905-739-3999