GODERICH – The Ontario government’s
decision to close the Bluewater Youth Centre in Goderich will have a
devastating impact on the town, the workers and families in the area that
have young people involved in the system.
OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas
says this announcement will shatter the economy of Goderich, a town that has
already dealt with a natural disaster less than a year ago.
“Goderich was nearly destroyed by a
tornado last summer, now they’re about to endure an economic tornado that
will impact every segment of this community,” Thomas said. “Nearly 200
good-paying jobs are about to be ripped out of the area, leaving nothing in
OPSEU is also denouncing the Ministry of
Children and Youth Services for leaking the closure to the media prior to
telling the staff at the facility that the centre would be shut down.
“Over the weekend, staff at the facility
found out through the media and Twitter that a closure announcement was
coming,” Thomas said. “This is was completely disrespectful to our members
and their families, whose lives are going to be changed forever.
Glenna Caldwell, elected provincial
representative for OPSEU members working in the youth justice system, said
that there are alternatives to the complete closure of the Bluewater
“There are many small open-custody and
transfer payment facilities that could have their operations transferred to
Bluewater,” Caldwell said. “We have trained, expert staff that can deal with
youth issues, and the province would save money by amalgamating these
Caldwell also says that the families of
the youth at Bluewater will be adversely affected by this closure. “The very
foundation of youth justice issues centers on involving families in the
young person’s programs,” Caldwell said. “Many of the youth at Bluewater
come from the surrounding area. This closure means they will be moved
hundreds of miles from their communities, and cut off from the supports
provided by their families.”