PETERBOROUGH, Ont. — Mental health services in Haliburton, Kawartha and Pine Ridge will benefit from the stability that a fair and reasonable settlement for workers will bring, say representatives of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE).

The union’s efforts to reach a fair and reasonable agreement for its members at the local branch of Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) have highlighted issues created by underfunding of mental health services in the region: high staff turnover, a two-tier workforce and inequality. These problems hamper workers’ ability to provide best-quality mental health services for the region’s residents, says the union.

“We are working hard get an agreement that protects the quality of services for vulnerable people in the region,” stated Alison Davidson, national representative for CUPE. “But we believe that to do that, all CMHA employees have to be treated equally.”

“In this case, we want to give all CUPE members the right to join a pension plan; CMHA doesn’t,” said Kirk Hiller, president of CUPE 5258. “But when your services rely on building trust with clients, it’s important to have a stable workforce. Treating employees differently won’t achieve that.”

Union representatives point out that benefits like a pension plan, when extended to all workers, can play an important role in lowering staff turnover and increase the agency’s ability to recruit and retain staff. It also helps create a stable workforce that allows workers to build the solid relationships that the agency’s clients rely on.

“We recognize that CMHA is under funding pressures; but creating an unequal workplace won’t deliver high quality services and won’t solve their financial problems,” said Davidson.

“We invite CMHA’s negotiators to return to the table and work out a deal that includes ways of pressuring the provincial government to improve funding for mental health services, not only in Haliburton, Kawartha, and Pine Ridge but across the province.”

For more information, contact:

Kirk Hillier
President CUPE 5258

Alison Davidson
CUPE National Representative

Mary Unan
CUPE Communications