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Mental Health Division Newsletter: Spring 2018

Mental Health Division

Who are we and what do we do!

The Mental Health Division was founded on November 4, 2001, to provide a strong, cohesive voice within OPSEU to promote mental health issues. We represent 8,000 members in the public hospitals that were formerly Provincial Psychiatric Hospitals, and in community mental health agencies.

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Aims and purposes

  • Coordinate political action, social awareness, education and public relations;
  • Promote justice, equality and efficiency in mental health & addiction services to the public;
  • Bring members together to discuss matters of common interest, to formulate policies and positions on mental health and addictions issues, promoting them within OPSEU;
  • Develop recommendations and strategies to guide member locals and member units in collective bargaining;
  • Participate in the activities of the OPSEU Health Care Divisional Council, and work with the other health care divisions, as well as community allies.

In Solidarity,

Ed Arvelin
OPSEU Mental Health

Message from Bargaining Coordinator, Kevin Hudson

I was elected as the division’s Bargaining Coordinator at the Broader Public Service (BPS) Conference in June 2017. We have accomplished a lot in a relatively short period of time.

The division’s work plan was developed to include our first bargaining conference, which quickly expanded to include other health care sectors: Long-Term Care (Sector 8) and Hospital Support (Sector 11). We elected a Mental Health Division Ad Hoc Committee consisting of two representatives each from Hospital Services and Community Services to help gather information.

All the planning came to fruition on Nov. 6 and 7, 2017, when the three sectors met for part of the first day and then broke out into sector-specific groups for the remainder of the time.

An OPSEU Health and Safety Officer was the first presenter, speaking about workplace violence and the “From Knowledge to Action” toolkit. This health and safety toolkit was spearheaded by the MH Division and is now a valuable tool for all OPSEU members.

OPSEU Research Officer Gwen Jenkins provided information on bargaining trends across the province while OPSEU Negotiator Marc Casey informed us about collective bargaining. Prior to breaking off into our sector work, OPSEU Campaigns Officer Kim Johnston led a session called “Follow the Money,” while OPSEU Benefits Counselor Guilia Volpe provided information on OHIP+.

The MH Division’s breakout sessions included topics including “Superior Contract Language”, “A Map of Community Agency Locations in Ontario”, “Developing Strong Collective Agreement Language”, “Language Comparison Of OPSEU and other Unions”, and “Bargaining Trends in the Community Sectors.” We are appreciative of OPSEU Organizer Patti Markland and OPSEU Negotiator Jeff Weston for the wealth of knowledge they were able to provide.

Each participant was provided with a resource binder and a thumb-drive containing all the current collective agreements in our sector. The feedback from those attending was very positive and useful as we move forward with planning for the future.

I look forward to see you at the next bargaining conference.

Message from the Campaigns Coordinator, Tischa Forster

The Mental Health Division sent a survey to all of our mental health locals prior to our bargaining conference on Nov. 6 and 7, 2017. The intent was to identify the areas of greatest concern that will affect our bargaining and demands.

The top 10 issues identified by the locals are:

  1. Toxicity
  2. Bullying
  3. Burnout / vicarious trauma
  4. Staffing levels / workload and caseload / high staffing turnover
  5. Health and safety
  6. Inadequate training
  7. Increased sick time
  8. Harassment
  9. Driving alone and home visits alone
  10. Flexible schedule / compressed work week

At the conference, we shared best language and contracts that have achieved improvements in some of these areas of concern. The sector hopes that we can all strive to achieve improvements in these areas in all of our collective agreements.

Message from Health & Safety Coordinator, Carol Mundley

The Mental Health Division continues to work diligently to bring health and safety issues out into the open, where dialogue takes place and changes are made. Violence in the workplace has been our focus and we have spearheaded the creation of the “From Knowledge to Action” toolkit for OPSEU members facing violence at work in health care generally and mental health facilities in particular.

On Oct. 17, 30 OPSEU mental health workers from across Ontario arrived at Queen’s Park to lobby MPPs for more funding and support for occupational health and safety. The increase in violence is resulting in escalating physical and mental injuries. Only when we are safe can we provide the quality care and safety that our patients and clients deserve.

We have a plan to continue focusing on workplace violence. Our goals for an inquiry include developing a violence profile for the sector and the particular risk factors; developing a report to highlight workers’ experiences, provide qualitative evidence, and promote key recommendations to reduce workplace violence; and developing an educational tool.

Stay safe.

Welcome to the Mental Health Division, Sector 18

CMHA Hamilton (December 2017)/Maison Fraternite (December 2017)

Farewell and thank you to those MH Division executives who have moved on

Ron Lepage
Thomas Andersson
Ted Trainer

We wish you the best of luck in future endeavors and thank you for all the work done while serving on the executive.

Dues Reminder

Thank you to all locals that have paid their dues.

It is imperative for the division to have funds available to continue doing the work on behalf of all members of Sector 18.

If you have not yet submitted your dues, please do. Please contact Ed Arvelin if you have any questions.


Contact us

Ed Arvelin

Al Donaldson
Vice Chair

Kevin Hudson
Bargaining Co-ordinator

Tischa Forster
Campaigns Co-ordinator

Carol Mundley
Health & Safety Co-ordinator

Maggie Wakeford
Membership Co-ordinator

Laurie Koval
Communication Co-ordinator

Cindy Ladouceur

Shirley Shepherd

Sheila Sak