Why all the secrecy over at Elgin St. Thomas Public Health?

This corner received several anonymous tips several weeks ago alerting four staff were let go earlier this month in the area of dental services at Elgin St. Thomas Public Health.
One individual passing along information noted, “no one knows why, no details were given but all staff are extremely upset and in turmoil, it has been a devastating week.”
Cynthia St. John, executive director with the organization, is unwilling to shed any light on the dismissals, which have obviously impacted staff morale.
“Truthfully, we do not comment on personnel matters,” she asserted.

Cynthia St. John

Well, truthfully Cynthia, we don’t view this as a personnel matter, but instead a cut to a particular service and as a publicly-funded operation, insight into the rationale for the cuts, who determined they were necessary and how this will impact the delivery of that service would be appreciated.

“I can’t even acknowledge if there were cuts,” she toyed. “What I can tell you is our programs and services are running the same today as they were a month ago, six months ago, a year ago.”
Why the reluctance to comment, when other city healthcare operations, such as St. Thomas-Elgin General Hospital ,are more than willing to be proactive when staffing adjustments are made and will take time to explain to the media the rationale and impact?
Why is there a such a tight-lipped difference in the case of Elgin St. Thomas Public Health?
“I can’t comment on that,” St. John maintained.
So, who established this policy of keeping the media, and ultimately the ratepayers who fund this organization, in the dark?
“That takes place in conjunction with the board and senior leadership here,” she explained. “Any personnel matters in this organization, depending on the issue, are discussed at the board table.”
My, that’s a glaring contradiction to what the board chairman, Ald. Bill Aarts, (directly accountable to the citizens of St. Thomas) told City Scope a week ago.
Here’s his rebuttal when asked about the staff cuts, “I can’t comment on that because the board doesn’t get involved in the personnel end. It’s not our jurisdiction.”
This lack of transparency and accountability to city ratepayers is disturbing, and is only surpassed by the unwillingness of any member of council to stand up and pin down the three elected representatives who sit on the Elgin St. Thomas Public Health board of directors, Ald. Aarts, Ald. Tom Johnston and Ald. Gord Campbell.
This combined with the organization’s proposed move out of their present location to a downtown site, at this point not identified, and few details made available to St. Thomas council about the status of the property which has a lease sign on it, leaves a cloud of speculation and a staff in turmoil.

Just before Christmas, city police working with London RCMP officers executed a drug raid at a north-end residence, and in the process tasered and pepper-sprayed a couple of pit bulls.
Two people were charged with a variety of offences, a small amount of drugs valued at $5,600 was seized along with $550,000 in Iraqi currency — less than $500 in Canadian funds.
Case closed.
But wait, what about the two dogs seized as assets in the raid?
Well, they have been languishing at the pound all this time, in cages, on the cold cement floor, fed once a day, with no toys or blankets. 
They are not taken outside, ever. They are moved from one cage to another on a pole and a noose around the neck.
 The Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has been contacted (at the request of the three local animal rescue groups), however, it appears that organization has no facility to help these dogs, and does not see them as suffering.
So, the pair bide their time in cages not much bigger than the animals.
Sounds very much like a stand-off between the deputy city clerk (who is responsible for the pound) and city police as to who is responsible for these so-called assets and their ultimate destiny.
If the two unfortunate dogs had been border collies, would they still be confined to quarters in such fashion?
“It’s kind of like an out-of-control situation. They (government) don’t know where they’re going.”
Bob Hammersley, president of the St. Thomas and District Chamber of Commerce, notes the province did not listen to the Ontario Chamber of Commerce when it asked for analysis of the health care system. The comment followed release of the provincial budget on Thursday.

 City Scope appears every Saturday in the Times-Journal. Questions and comments may be e-mailed to: mccallum@stthomastimesjournal.com.

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