CMHA merger bloats management and extends wait times


(SARNIA) – Despite assurances by the Canadian Mental Health Association that costs will be trimmed and wait times reduced as a result of local mergers, the evidence shows that the ranks of management are growing along with wait times.

“The public has been led to believe that these mergers are some sort of magic wand that will suddenly eliminate the shortcoming in our mental health care delivery,” said Tischa Battram, president of OPSEU Local 133 which represents care workers at local branches of the CMHA.

“But the reality is something entirely different,” she said. “What we’re witnessing is more layers of management and administrative support, and less front line workers who deliver much needed care and treatment.”

Battram was commenting on recent announcements from local CMHA officials who insist the agency has achieved cost savings through “consolidation” of management and administrative positions as a result of the merger of branches in Sarnia-Lambton and Chatham-Kent.

To bolster its case the union points to the recent appointment of new senior managers (to supervise middle managers), and more hires for management and administrative positions in human services, communications and community engagement, the finance department and technology services.

At the same time there has been an exodus of more than 35 per cent of staff at the CMHA Sarnia-Lambton branch, including a public educator, several clinical specialists and up to 10 front-line case workers.

With the upheaval at the management level and the failure to fill vacancies as staff depart, wait lists grow even longer, said Battram. The biggest losers, as always, are those clients for whom the queue lengthens even further.

“All these changes were supposed to have reduced wait times, but they haven’t,” she said. “The failure to fill vacancies in a timely manner is the single most significant reason why patients wait longer to receive treatment.”

For more information:

Tischa Battram President, OPSEU Local 133 cell: 519-777-5969

Carol Warner OPSEU Staff Representative cell: 519-319-1736