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THUNDER BAY Over three months into a strike that has prolonged a crisis in social service and mental health services in north-western Ontario communities, North of Superior Programs (NOSP) is advertising to fill a management job and closing offices, without making any moves to settle the strike, says the union representing 36 social service and mental health workers who went on strike June 26th.

How can they advertise for a management job when they havent done anything to settle a strike that is crippling our communities, says Diane Atkinson, a social worker and spokesperson for Local 3253 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE). They wont have anything to manage until we get back to work. That should be the priority for this employer and its Board of Directors.

CUPE was shocked to see the ad in local papers, since no progress has been made to solve the strike and get services back on track.

Theyre even closing the Terrace Bay and Schreiber offices, when nothings ready to replace them, says Atkinson. They keep telling us they need more money for rent, that costs keep going up when our pickets arrived at Terracy Bay and Schreiber, they were packing things up for a shutdown. Weve heard theyre moving the services to a merged office, but no new location is ready, and there was not discussion about this at the last Board meeting. The communities dont even know about this its despicable.

NOSP management also merged the Geraldton and Longlac offices last year, without telling staff or the community until all was said and done. This Board and management have a long history of operating in secrecy. Theres no accountability, says Atkinson.

The 36 workers offer mental health, addiction counselling and integrated services for children in communities all along the north shore of Lake Superior, from Nipigon to Manitouwadge, including Geraldton, Longlac and Nakina. Clients have started moving out of the district to the City, because they have no access to the services they need.

Ive never seen a Board abandon its responsibilities the way this one has, says CUPE National Representative Dan Pike. We think its time the Government stepped in and took over these services its obvious the current Board and management have not been willing or able to solve this crisis.


For further information, please contact:
Dan Pike
CUPE National Rep.
613-293-3535 (cell)

Diane Atkinson
CUPE 3253 spokesperson
807-229-7933 (cell)

Robert Lamoureux
CUPE Communications