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OPSEU/SEFPO demands fair deal at Children’s Mental Health of Leeds and Grenville

Toronto – After more than six months of stall tactics, OPSEU/SEFPO President Warren (Smokey) Thomas says it’s time for management at Children’s Mental Health of Leeds and Grenville (CMHLG) to get serious about finalizing a fair deal for front-line heroes at the agency.

“CMHLG staff have provided essential services to some of our most vulnerable children throughout the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Thomas. “They should be rewarded for their heroic efforts, and they absolutely deserve decency and fairness at the bargaining table – not more smoke and mirrors.”

CMHLG is a community-based mental health agency serving the needs of children, youth and families with a range of professional staff including psychotherapists, social workers, respite workers and administrative assistants whose contract expired March 31, 2021.

Despite the union presenting a reasonable proposal, including a modest one per cent wage increase – which is the amount currently allowed under the province’s Bill 124 wage cap – the employer has shown little interest in getting the job done.

After six months of failed negotiations, OPSEU/SEFPO First Vice-President/Treasurer Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida says it’s no wonder staff voted 96 per cent in support of a strike mandate in May. The union has since filed for conciliation.

“Rather than acknowledge and honour the invaluable contributions of staff, and recognize that their demands are reasonable, management has made this a brutally painful process, threatening contract take-aways, like reduced bereavement leave, during a global health crisis,” said Almeida. “It’s time for management to focus on people and care, not power and control.”

As the parties prepare for a second day of conciliation on September 16, the union says enough time, money and energy have already been wasted, and the bargaining team has their sleeves rolled up and ready.

“On the eve of the 25th anniversary of CMHLG, we are left in a shocking state of affairs, with workplace morale at an all-time low,” said Mike Quinn, Local 441 Bargaining Team Chair. “From the start, we’ve been focused on bargaining in good faith. All we ask is that our employer do the same; that they stop dragging their heels and come to day two of conciliation ready to work.”

“As a community-based organization that’s accountable to the public, it’s time for the Board of Directors to send a strong message to management,” said Thomas. “Stop the costly delays and get the deal done so that staff can get back to focusing on the work they care so passionately about.”

For more information: Warren (Smokey) Thomas, 613-329-1931