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Brockville Mental Health Center: The battle for excellence in mental health services

We the North
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An opinion submitted to the Brockville Recorder and Times 

In the past few weeks there has been a lot of talk about the closure of beds at the Brockville Mental Health Centre (BMHC), and the transfer of services to Ottawa.  The Local Health Integration Network, and unelected, and a publicly unaccountable body, thinks the solution is to displace these vulnerable clients, and move services, and money out of the Brockville community.  They say the condition of the building is so deteriorated that millions of dollars are needed to bring this facility up to standard.  We question how the Ontario government allowed this to happen.

It has been said that OPSEU should devote resources to a “battle that can be won”.  We say that the battle for excellence in mental health services will never be conceded. We say it is never pointless to preserve quality health services, especially for vulnerable people. They deserve the best care they can get in an environment that they have become comfortable in…an environment some may even call home.

Dr. Cushman’s comparison of BMHC to facilities depicted in Cuckoos Nest is repugnant, and does not merit further attention.

This week David Caplan, Ontario’s Health Minister divulged that his own family has been repeatedly touched by mental health issues.  We strongly doubt that he would be in support of the scheme being proposed in Brockville.

Nonetheless the LHIN’s proposal is to further cut services. We defy those in charge of delivering these services in Brockville to explain how cutting services will improve this beleaguered system.

Minister Caplan should be dismayed that the only solution seems to be to subject the mental health system to further carelessness and abuse, by closing more doors, and eliminating the jobs of skilled mental health professionals.

Finally, if the Ontario government wants to invest money in infrastructure, why not do it in Brockville? This community has the staff and the experience – which will all be lost forever if these jobs move to Ottawa. Please don’t insult us with vague promises of job creation sometime in the “future.” We aren’t that naïve.

During this recession, making cuts to health care in smaller communities is not the answer. Investing in jobs to build a future in an already hard-hit community is. Brockville deserves quality health care in this community. We wonder why Dr. Cushman refuses to be an advocate for it.