Support grows, action widens to save T-Town
Opposition to the planned closure of a renowned mental health facility continues to grow. Increasing numbers of parents, community members, and workers are joining public events to hike public awareness and pressure on the Ontario government to reverse the decision.
The closure would leave more than 400 families without treatment for children with mental health problems and developmental disabilities, such as extreme autism. Thistletown Regional Centre is a place of last resort for hard-to-treat cases turned away by hospitals and community agencies.
Last week alone, they walked together in the Autism Speaks Walk, appeared at a Thistletown family barbeque, and rallied outside a fundraiser for Eric Hoskins, Ontario’s Minister of Children and Youth Services.
Members of the public were shocked to learn from conversations and leaflets that Thistletown is slated to close over a two-year period starting this Fall with no plan for existing clients and without full disclosure to those affected. Many signed the petition to keep Thistletown open and asked what they could do to help.
Members of OPSEU’s Greater Toronto Area Council took leaflets and petitions to the public outside the $500-per-person Hoskins fundraiser at a posh hotel on Toronto’s Bloor St. Joining them was Nancy Pridham, a nurse at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, and an OPSEU Executive Board Member from Region 5.
At the autism walk, a coalition member approached Kathleen Wynne, Minister of Housing and Aboriginal Affairs and asked her to tell Minister Hoskins that the families are waiting for a meeting with him.
Information for 400 day-treatment and 15 residential clients and their families has been piecemeal. The coalition wants Hoskins to meet with Thistletown parents as a group, make public a detailed plan for transition, and commit to long-term funding to replicate Thistletown’s services.