News - Press Release
Press Release

Investigation into CMHA Elgin must address workplace harassment: OPSEU

Publication Date

Tuesday, February 27, 2018 - 6:45am

St. Thomas – In response to reported governance and operational concerns at the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) Elgin Branch, notice has been posted publicly that the South West Local Health Integration Network (SWLHIN) will formally investigate the organization. 

At their January meeting, the SWLHIN Board of Directors approved the appointment of an investigator to look into the concerns identified, and to produce findings and recommendations based on their review. While the details around the scope and mandate of the investigation remain unclear, members of OPSEU local 133 – which represents the mental health and addictions staff at CMHA Elgin - are hopeful that the process will lead to positive changes within the agency.

“For years we’ve raised red flags about the toxicity, bullying and harassment in this workplace,” according to Tischa Forster, President of OPSEU local 133. “We’ve tried to address our members’ concerns through dialogue and grievances.  We even held an info picket in October to press for internal changes, when we felt all other options had been exhausted.

“It is a very serious matter when the SWLHIN votes to hire an independent investigator for reported governance and operational concerns,” said Forster. "We are extremely hopeful that the results of this investigation will highlight the need for change at CMHA Elgin, and that positive solutions will be implemented to support staff in providing the best possible care to the clients we serve in Elgin County."

“A change at CMHA Elgin is long overdue,” said OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas. We are hopeful for the opportunity to share our concerns with the investigator, and to work with them moving forward so that we can improve the working environment for all. We also hope this investigation will be the wake-up call that management so desperately needs; enough is enough.”

For more information: Warren (Smokey) Thomas, 613-329-1931; Ed Arvelin, Chair, OPSEU Mental Health Division, 807-628-9187