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Children’s mental health press conference to be held in Sarnia, November 10

We the North
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OPSEU President, Warren (Smokey) Thomas, will be holding a press conference at St. Clair Child and Youth Services to address the crisis in children’s mental health funding.

November 10, 2010
4:30 p.m.
St. Clair Child and Youth Services
OPSEU Local 145

Smokey will be joined by Sahar Nasr, President, Board of Directors, St. Clair Child and Youth Services; Peter Smith, Chair, Children"s Mental Health Advocacy Committee of Sarnia-Lambton and Deb Gordon, OPSEU Child Treatment Sector Chair and staff member at St. Clair Child and Youth Services.

The economic downturn has contributed to a 35% increase in overall referral rates for services at St. Clair Child and Youth Services. Meanwhile, there has been no increase to core funding for children and youth mental health services in Ontario in 14 out of 17 years. This translates into a 35% reduction in capacity to be responsive.

“The Ministry needs to know we are barely keeping our heads above water,” Said Deb Gordon. “In the past six months, St. Clair Child and Youth Services has received 43 new crisis referrals from children and youth who have significant high risk emotional and/or behavioural disturbance including suicidal ideation or who have planned or attempted suicide. That is more crisis referrals than we received in an entire year from April 2009 to March 2010. Our focus has had to shift to crisis management response at the cost of other services we provide – families not in crisis are forced to wait longer for service.”

Community Boards and Agencies across the province are increasingly forced into closing even successful programs, as will be the case at the Community Girls’ Home in March 2011.

“I call on Minister of Children and Youth Services, Laurel Broten, to immediately respond to St. Clair Child and Youth Services,” said OPSEU President, Warren (Smokey) Thomas. “This agency must be provided with adequate funding to ensure that children and youth in this community receive timely services close to home.”

There are 65 OPSEU members currently working at St. Clair Child and Youth Services, where they provide critical services for children and youth.