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Twenty-five mental health crisis intervention counsellors at a community health centre in downtown Ottawa are facing layoff after the provincial health ministry decided to shift the service to the citys main hospital.

The workers, who help social workers, police and family members deal with people with severe mental illness, as well as providing direct support to clients in crisis, have been told nothing except that their jobs are gone at the end of March and they will have to reapply.

We are very concerned for the well-being of the people who rely on our service, says CUPE 4369 president Igor Ziemba. These are vulnerable people who dont adapt well to change. Now they face the prospect of losing crisis workers theyve come to know and rely on.

The service was set up three years ago and was applauded for its innovative approach to community-based service.

CUPE is taking the matter to the labour board. The nature of the work will not be different and the funding will come from the same source, says CUPE representative Bev Smale. These workers should follow the program and retain their work automatically.