Health Care: Mental Health Division

Mental Health Division

Cuts are creating a volatile situation at Kingston's Providence Care -- Union to picket Friday

January 31, 2013

KINGSTON -- Cuts to Providence Care Mental Health Services are impacting the safety of both staff and patients in their care.

Staff who provide care to patients are marching outside their workplace on Friday, February 1 from 11 am to 1 pm to demand both management and area politicians begin to address the deteriorating conditions at the hospital.

Without long promised community alternatives, the psychiatric hospital is facing overcrowded units, cuts to programming and budget-driven understaffing that are creating a very volatile situation inside. Two additional units are expected to close this year, taking another 60 beds out of use and reducing staffing further.

"When Providence Care is rebuilt, few realize that the new hospital will have a considerably reduced capacity," says Warren (Smokey) Thomas, President of the 130,000-member Ontario Public Service Employees Union. "The cuts come at a time when demand for mental health services is on the rise. Where will these patients go? Many in our care cannot be easily transferred to the community."

OPSEU members working say administrators are more concerned about the image of the hospital than resolving the problems inside.

That includes the need for proper risk assessments on units where both patient-on-patient and patient-on-staff assaults have taken place, resulting in unnecessary staff injuries that are now subject to investigation by the Ministry of Labour.

"It is not the patients who are responsible for the situation, but a province that has severely eroded mental health care in this community," says Thomas. "We already know what the answers are - why are we still waiting for Ontario to take action and adopt the broader strategy outlined by the Mental Health Commission of Canada?"

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