OTTAWA – The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre has begun serving notice of layoff to the entire staff of addiction counsellors working in the inpatient Substance Use and Concurrent Disorders Program.
The decision affects five regular and two part-time members of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union with 100 years of combined experience in addiction treatment. Seven casual employees are also losing their jobs.
“We are deeply dismayed that The Royal has decided to put the livelihoods of these workers and the treatment of their patients in jeopardy by shutting down a program that has been serving the community for 30 years,” said OPSEU Local 479 President, Marlene Rivier.
OPSEU had been in talks with the hospital for months to try to avert the layoffs, but all of the union’s proposals were rejected.
“What’s worse is there is no transition plan for patients currently enrolled in the Meadow Creek program. Their treatment has been disrupted by all the changes going on, and they will not receive the promised follow-up care,” added Rivier.
The hospital is launching a new program to treat patients who are battling addictions and mental illness at the same time and says the current staff are not up to the job of dealing with the increasingly complex clients admitted to the program. The laid-off addiction counsellors will be replaced by social workers and psychologists.
“Given the scarcity of health care dollars in this province, hospitals are being forced to find more cost-effective ways to deliver their services without compromising patient care,” said OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas, who has worked in the mental health field for most of his adult life. “Laying off highly-skilled workers, hiring more expensive providers and leaving patients in the lurch just doesn’t make sense.”
“Addiction counsellors have been an integral part of this program for decades. The Royal should be looking at ways to compliment the value they bring to the table, instead of just kicking them all to the curb.”
For more information: Marlene Rivier, 613-222-8392