Hamilton – Employees with the Hamilton branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) who provide services to adults with serious mental illness have voted to join the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU).
“These workers chose OPSEU because they were looking for security and protection at a time of uncertainty at CMHA Hamilton,” said Ed Arvelin, chair of OPSEU’s Mental Health and Addictions Division. “The agency’s chief executive officer was retiring, and employees were unsure who would fill the role. Unionizing would give them greater peace of mind during the transition.”
Arvelin said workers were also looking for consistency in job postings and policies, in addition to a legal voice in their workplace. “With the turmoil that has shaken mental health care across the province in terms of restructuring and refinancing, staff wanted to ensure they had a say in any changes that could impact CMHA’s Hamilton branch.”
In 2016-17, the branch supported over 9,700 individuals in the Hamilton area and has been a fixture in the community for over half a century.
“One reason staff at CMHA Hamilton chose OPSEU was the union’s extensive involvement in similar agencies in Hamilton and surrounding areas. They’ve seen how OPSEU lobbies the government for mental health care dollars, and they’ve seen how the union takes to heart the well-being of the mental health professionals who give their all to deliver excellent services to this community.”
Warren (Smokey) Thomas, President of OPSEU, noted that CMHA Hamilton would not be the first branch to join OPSEU.
“OPSEU already represents a number of CMHA branches across Ontario, and we’re delighted and proud that the hardworking staff at the Hamilton branch have also chosen OPSEU. In these uncertain times, with public health care threatened by cuts and privatization, word is spreading that OPSEU – the union for changing workplaces – is the best fit for mental health professionals.
“I wish all our new members a very warm welcome to the OPSEU family.”
The CMHA serves 100,000 Canadians yearly in some 135 communities. The Hamilton branch of the CMHA is funded by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, the United Way of Burlington and Greater Hamilton, and the City of Hamilton.
For more information: Ed Arvelin, 807-628-9187