Media advisory: Locked out mental health and addictions workers to rally in Timmins

Timmins, ON— Workers locked out by the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) Cochrane-Timiskaming, members of OPSEU/SEFPO Local 631, will be holding a rally this Friday outside Timmins MPP George Pirie’s office to demand a fair deal and an end to the lockout.

These workers are on the frontlines of the opioid crisis, which has overwhelmed our northern communities. In fact, Northern Ontario currently faces the highest rates of opioid-related deaths in the province. Everyone in the north knows someone affected.

These members dedicate their days to providing life-saving mental health and addictions support across the northern communities of Timmins, Iroquois Falls, Matheson, Kirkland Lake, Cochrane, and New Liskeard. Fighting against these workers is completely misguided and cruel.

Workers are rallying for a fair deal, with wages that keep up with inflation, and no clawbacks to their long-term disability to pay for a new pension plan. The new pension plan will already mean about 8% more coming out every worker’s paycheque.

“The CMHA is trying to strong-arm our members into accepting concessions after years of service,” said Maggie Wakeford, President of OPSEU/SEFPO Local 631. “Some of us have been here for 30 years. Rather than recognizing our dedication, the employer has locked us out while temperatures drop down to twenty below freezing.”

“Northern communities are at the heart of the opioid epidemic and mental health crisis – and yet consistently neglected by the province,” said JP Hornick, President of OPSEU/SEFPO. “Now, a major northern employer has chosen to jeopardize access to essential services and gamble with peoples’ lives rather than negotiate fairly with workers. Their fight is our fight – as workers, we won’t stand for this.”


DATE: Friday, February 16th, 2024

TIME: 12 p.m. – 2 p.m.

LOCATION: 330 2nd Ave., Timmins ON