Mental health & addictions newsletter: meet your division leaders, government lobbying, and attend our meetings!


From your Mental Health & Addictions Division leaders: thank you!

We salute the members who provide mental health and addictions services across the province for their work and continued dedication throughout the pandemic. You provided essential and life-saving services at a time when the demand for mental health and addictions services skyrocketed. You rose to the challenge, often foregoing vacation, working extraordinary hours and juggling the personal challenges of dealing with the pandemic. The union has been there with you every step of the way advocating for PPEs, pandemic pay, the implementation of health and safety protections on the job and job security. It hasn’t been perfect but we are proud of our efforts to keep government accountable in defending all of our members’ interests. We did it together!

Your sector leadership has worked diligently to ask for more investments to support your work during this surge in demand for mental health services and an all-time high of opioid-related deaths during the first two waves of the pandemic. The government listened, and announced an investment of more than $4 million over two years to expand Mobile Crisis Response Teams and a new Addictions Recovery Fund committing an investment of $90 million over three years to expand addictions services and create 396 new addictions treatment beds for adults, but there is a lot more to do. We know that greater investments are needed in community mental health and addictions to respond to the current demand for service. And so we look forward to the future, to continue to advocate for immediate investments as part of the province’s Roadmap to Wellness. OPSEU/SEFPO will be there with you every step of the way, that’s what we do and why we are such a great union.

Hello! Introducing your division leaders

Hello! Sector 18 leaders on a computer screen in a virtual meeting

Hello all,

First and foremost, thank you for all that you do and have done for so many. We see the work you’ve been doing, we hear the issues you’ve been dealing with in your workplaces and we appreciate and respect you all.

Know that your Sector 18 Mental Health & Addictions division is working for you in building the knowledge and skills our locals need to protect and advocate for our members.
We have an amazing team, sector and Union and I am looking forward to working with you all as we continue to move the bar forward!!

Forever in solidarity,

Ed Arvelin, Chair
OPSEU/SEFPO Chair of the Mental Health & Addictions Division
Registered Practical Nurse (RPN) St. Joseph’s Care Group ParaMed Bargaining Unit

Cindy Ladouceur, Treasurer

I am a member of Local 439, Brockville Mental Health Centre. I have been a Registered Practical Nurse since 1990. I was motivated to become active with the union in response to privatization in healthcare. I am proud to have held the position of Treasurer for the division since 2017. Our division has been incredibly active with amazing leadership during the pandemic. On a personal note, in 2020 I had two automobile accidents. As a result of these accidents and my injuries, I was diagnosed with PTSD. The fight of my life unfolded in front of me. I returned to work after being off for nine months and am committed to all aspects of my recovery. Our members are hardworking and fight with passion, but we need to look after ourselves to keep up with the work we do, we can be faced with mental health challenges at any age.

Tischa Forster, Vice-chair

I am local president of the Canadian Mental Health Association Elgin and Oxford. Our division continues to provide information to help members to advocate for pandemic related policies. We are excited about our upcoming virtual sector meetings open to all members, to learn and seek support on issues important to performing our challenging work. Please contact our division if you need support or know of any upcoming merger situations. We are passionate about taking action through campaigns and if you need support or have an idea, please reach out to us. A whole hearted thank you to each of you for your leadership, your voice, activism and work as we face these challenging times together.

Julie Chambo, Bargaining coordinator

My role is to stay up-to-date with grievances and collective bargaining issues, to help develop provincial bargaining strategies, and act as a liaison with locals and units on bargaining issues, and help organize the annual sector bargaining conference. I am proud to be serving my second term as your bargaining coordinator. I am a member of Local 291 (CMHA Waterloo Wellington) where I have held many elected positions. Please share your information/ experiences about themes and issues you’re encountering including collective agreement language and grievances, as well as arbitration awards and decisions. We all become stronger when we coordinate our efforts. Please don’t hesitate to contact me at 519-827-5199.

Carol Mundley (she/her), Health and safety coordinator

My journey with OPSEU/ SEFPO began over 19 years ago, when I was elected shop steward of Local 500. Coming from an environment where challenging the status quo was a necessity, my transition into activism was natural. The spark was further ignited when experienced violence in the workplace and served as co-chair of my joint health and safety committee. At my first Broader Public Sector convention, I was tapped for the position of health and safety coordinator for the division and I humbly accepted. I have worked to advance health and safety through “Violence in the Workplace” toolkit workshops, petitioning and lobbing MPPs, hosting the annual H&S sector conference; and delivering courses on workplace mental health. I look forward to working on a new psychological injury toolkit and am committed to support workers to recognize that we all play an intricate role in ensuring health and safety in the workplace.

Maggie Wakeford, Membership coordinator

I am local president of the Canadian Mental Health Association Cochrane Timiskaming Branch, local 631. My MHAD position provides me with opportunities to connect with members in our sector and allows me to network with others who are facing similar challenges in their workplace. By connecting the dots throughout the province, members are able to share resources and problem solve. I live by the phrase, “strength in numbers,” and look forward to working with you while we strive for fairness, equality and more fulfilling lives for our members and the vulnerable people we serve.

Dustin Bayley, Secretary

I am vice-president of local 631 which represents the Canadian Mental Health Association Cochrane Timiskaming Branch. My sector work with the division allows me the honor and opportunity to capture the work being done in efforts to assist with members’ advocacy and striving to make a difference for our sector. I look forward to continue to support you all and I thank you for all that you do.

Mark Halabecki, Communications coordinator

I am vice-president of Local 720 which represents St. Joseph’s Care Group, CMHA Thunder Bay. I’m also on the pay equity committee, the bargaining committee, and am a unit steward for my local. I look forward to keeping our sector updated on social media platforms and communication campaigns. If you ever have information or campaigns you want to be shared in the sector, send it to me or to our sector chair, and we will be happy to share it. I want to thank you for all the hard work you do for the individuals we serve, as you continue looking out for yourselves and each other.

Justin Legros, Alternate

I started my journey with OPSEU/SEFPO nearly 10 years ago. As a steward I was active in local events, education and providing direct member support within the local. I enrolled in the Labour Relations Program at Algonquin College and graduated in 2020. In early 2021 I had the opportunity to backfill a full-time book off position in the local office and I realized that this was something I wanted to pursue. When the local held elections this past fall, I ran and was elected president of local 329. I was elected as an alternative for the division at BPS conference, and it has been an exciting, educational and inspiring experience. I look forward to the opportunities and challenges that await us.

Kurt Hehl, Public policy and campaigns coordinator

I am a member of local 329, Waypoint Centre for Mental Health Care. My journey started in 2003 working in the High Security Provincial Forensics Division. I followed in the footsteps of my father and grandfather who worked in the same field. After 18 years in the mental health field, I wanted to apply my local activism on larger scale. In 2019, I threw myself into working on province-wide divisional goals. In 2020, we hit the ground running and have never looked back. We held lobby days, hosted a paint night, submitted recommendations to MHLTC, sent out media blasts, and are currently holding quarterly sector-wide meetings. I look forward to sharing your stories from the frontlines to advocate for improvements in our field. We are a special, tenacious bunch and we always strive to lift each other up. It’s what we do, it’s who we are, and it’s definitely the work I love to do in fighting for better public services in our communities.

Mental Health and Addictions Division 2022 Budget Recommendations to Government

The pandemic has exposed the cracks in the mental health system and the limits and gaps of the social safety net. The government’s new investments to mental health under Ontario’s Roadmap to Wellness are a good start to recognizing the tremendous need for more services across the province. But we need serious action to address the growing mental health needs of all Ontarians and especially marginalized groups that require supportive-housing, addictions services and early intervention.

Please see OPSEU/SEFPO’s recommendations below:

  • Expand community-based mental health counseling services and early intervention;
  • Increase 24 hour integrated mobile crisis teams across all communities and provide stable, and permanent funding;
  • Expand community-based addictions services and eliminate for-profit treatment clinics;
  • Provide leadership to work with other levels of government to create supportive housing programs in every community; and
  • Expand Mental Health court locations and hours to provide better access to marginalized communities; provide culturally-competent and trauma-informed services within the justice system; and to significantly improve access to mental health court supports specific to Black and Indigenous individuals.

Don’t miss our quarterly virtual sector meetings, open to all members

Since the pandemic entered our lives, the Mental Health and Addictions Division decided to roll out virtual quarterly sector meetings to focus on providing members with support to advocate for our work, our members, and also take care of ourselves. In February we held the first virtual meeting on, “Addressing pandemic related grievances.”

Please mark your calendars with the following upcoming sector meetings in 2022 (zoom link will be sent out one week prior to each session):

  • May 2 – Mental Health week: getting our voice out through social media
  • September 20 – Bargaining trends & challenges
  • December 6 – Self-care for mental health and addictions workers
  • Stay tuned for upcoming fall conferences

Contact us

Edward Arvelin Sector Chair

Tischa Forster Vice-Chair

Julie Chambo Bargaining Coordinator

Kurt Hehl Public Policy & Campaigns Coordinator

Carol Mundley Health & Safety Co-ordinator

Maggie Wakeford Membership Co-ordinator

Mark Halabecki Communication Co-ordinator

Cynthia Ladouceur Treasurer

Dustin Bayley Secretary

Justin R. Legros Alternate

The Mental Health and Addictions Division thanks you for your dedication, commitment and sacrifice. Demand for our services skyrocketed during the pandemic, and we rose to the challenge. Now it’s time to pause, reflect and be recognized.

We’ve seen the work that you and your Local are doing and are proud to represent you!

In solidarity,
ED Arvelin, Chair