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OTTAWA – Workers at the Roberts/Smart Centre picketed Premier Dalton McGuinty’s Ottawa constituency office today in a bid to save the vital mental health centre from closure due to chronic provincial underfunding.

The provincial government has flat-lined funding for children and youth mental health services for most of the past 15 years,” said Marcus Blaszczyk, Vice-President of CUPE 2376.  “This slow-moving funding train wreck is now crashing into the reality that the need for services has gone up and up, but the funding hasn’t kept pace.  Why isn’t the mental health of Ontario children and youth a priority for this government?”

Workers from the centre, members of CUPE 2376, were joined by supporters in their picket today of Premier McGuinty’s office, handing out flyers to passersby and focusing community attention on the key role the Premier must play in saving the Centre.  The Roberts/Smart board of directors announced they are considering bankruptcy due to years of provincial underfunding.  The Centre is only one of two agencies in the province that provides specialized mental health support to youth.

Funding the Centre is crucial, but the government can’t solve the crisis with band-aids, said Simon Davidson, Chair of the Child and Youth Advisory Committee of the Mental Health Commission of Canada.

We can’t look at one-off solutions for a problem here and a shortfall there,” Davidson said.  “We need a broad-based strategy to appropriately address children and youth mental health in the province of Ontario.”

The crisis at Roberts/Smart is an example of a wider problem facing the children and youth’s mental health system – gross underfunding and inaction by the McGuinty government,” said Blaszczyk.  “Closing Roberts/Smart is not an option.  The government must show that the mental health of children and youth is a priority.”


For more information, please contact:

Marcus Blaszczyk, Vice-President, CUPE 2376, cell 613 252 2997
David Robbins, CUPE Communications, cell 613 878 1431