WHO WILL CARE FOR THE PEOPLE WHO NEED HELP?
HAMILTON What Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS) is doing to the citizens of Hamilton is either grossly incompetent or just cruel and thoughtless, says Michael Walters, president of CUPE Local 4800. On July 5, at a hastily convened meeting, several executives of HHS told the 15 employees of the Hamilton Mens Detox Centre that the centre is closed effective immediately and that all employees are laid off according to the terms of their collective agreement.
Ralph Dolmer, an addiction worker at the centre and a member of the CUPE Local 4800 executive board says that because of this decision, the corporation is putting the lives of Hamiltonians at risk. Our work helps turn around lives and it also saves lives.
At the meeting to announce the closing, Brenda Flaherty, a vice-president of HHS, commented that this was a good time of year to close the centre since the weather was warm. One can only assume that the corporation is pleased that its would-be clients will not die of exposure to the cold while the centre is closed.
The ostensible reason given for the closing is that all the centres employees must possess a Social Service and Addiction Diploma from a community college. Although regulations state or equivalent, the corporation is claiming that a new agreement they signed for funding stipulates only the diploma as a qualification.
Questions as to why the employees who possessed the qualifications diploma were also being laid off went unanswered. HHS also gave no explanation as to why the centre was being closed when experienced staff was still available to run the centre until personnel with the necessary qualifications could be hired or assigned.
This move is a total shock to us. There has been no discussion or consultation with the union regarding the issue of worker qualifications, the agreements demands for diploma-only staff, a smooth transition if staffing changes are needed or how to provide services to some of Hamiltons most needy citizens. This is either utterly heartless or an example of very bad management. Hamiltons citizens should be asking hard questions of the HHS, Walters added.
A campaign of political protest and demands for an inquiry into HHSs operations is being launched by CUPE and interested agencies and citizens.
Mike Walters, President, CUPE Local 4800
(905) 385-4555 O - (905) 544-2837 H
Lorne Trevors, CUPE National representative