OXFORD COUNTY – Members of
the Ontario Public Service Employees Union Local 133 at Canadian
Mental Health Association Oxford County Branch have rejected the
employer’s offer for a new collective agreement and have voted
97 per cent in favour of strike action.
Tischa Forster, President of
Local 133, said her members are determined to get a contract
that respects the vital work they do in communities across the
“Our members are the
second-lowest paid CMHA employees in the province,” said
Forster. “The employer’s offer doesn’t come close to the
industry norms for mental health professionals performing this
The employer’s “comprehensive
global offer” consisted of no wage increase for two years,
followed by 2 per cent in the third and fourth year. There was
also a slight increase to mileage rates and health spending.
Forster said that although the members appreciate the economic
realities, the offer doesn’t come close to levelling the playing
field with other CMHAs. “We are miles behind our colleagues
across Ontario,” Forster said. “Our members are grossly
undervalued considering that the services they provide are
critical to this area.”
Forster said the union will
be looking to sit down again with the employer in hopes of
coming to an agreement.
“The last thing our
dedicated, professional members want to do is take any job
action that will affect the care and services we provide to the
most vulnerable people in our communities,” Forster said.
“However, to attract and keep qualified professionals we must
have a contract that is at least the equal of other CMHA
employees. Our members are ready to fight for that, because that
is the only way to protect services in Oxford County.”
The Canadian Mental Health
Association Oxford County Branch provides community care to
clients who suffer severe and chronic mental illness, court
support and diversion programs, addiction support, care for
elderly persons and those with developmental disabilities that
also suffer from mental health issues, as well as operate a
24-hour county-wide crisis line.