MPP Jeff Yurek: More mental health and addiction supports needed to stop deaths at EMDC


city_scope_logo-cmykSt. Thomas will be the venue for the latest inquest into an inmate death at the Elgin Middlesex Detention Centre (EMDC).
The coroner’s inquest into the death of 47-year-old Michael Fall on July 30, 2017, will begin Sept. 23 at the Elgin County Courthouse.
Fall was one of five inmates to die that year at the London institution which has experienced 15 deaths in the past decade.
An inquest is mandatory under the Coroners Act and it will examine the circumstances surrounding his death. The jury may make recommendations aimed at preventing future deaths.
It’s certainly not the first inquest into an inmate death and, most recently, on June 22 another male prisoner was found unresponsive in his cell and later died in hospital.
Two days later, Elgin-Middlesex-London MPP Jeff Yurek advised in a statement, “I will continue to work with the solicitor general to ensure the safety of correctional officers, staff and inmates.”

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‘Underfunded and struggling’ – dealing with mental health issues in St. Thomas and across the province


city_scope_logo-cmykThere is no challenge whatsoever as to the merit of the program, what is of dire concern is the hand-to-mouth existence experienced at this time in keeping a Canadian Mental Health Association response worker as a resource for St. Thomas Police.
Earlier this month, city council approved an $18,000 expenditure that will allow
clinician Alex Paterson to remain with the service until the end of June.
She has been on board since October of 2017 when a one-year pilot program was launched.
Several extensions ensued, with the latest set to expire at the end of the month, allowing St. Thomas Police Chief Chris Herridge additional time to explore funding opportunities with the province and the South West Local Health Integration Network (LHIN).
We talked to Herridge this week to ascertain what financial gateways are open to him to ensure financial stability for a resource that has proven itself from the get-go. Continue reading

After a close call at Caressant Care, will the fire focus shift to a pair of non-sprinklered facilities in St. Thomas?


city_scope_logo-cmykAlthough one resident remains hospitalized, the Jan. 26 fire at Caressant Care, Bonnie Place in St. Thomas is being called “a perfect case” where the sprinkler system worked, firefighters were on the scene within four minutes and staff and residents had participated in a practice fire drill less than three months previous.
The late-evening blaze sent seven people to hospital, including four residents, two staff and a firefighter. All have been released with the exception of one resident who remains in critical condition.
But, what if that blaze had, instead, broken out in either one of a pair of facilities that appear to have fallen through various cracks? Continue reading

‘If you are fighting battles internally and fearful of things in your own workplace, it doesn’t make for productive work.’ – Turning the corner at CMHA Elgin?


city_scope_logo-cmykLast October, about two dozen staff at the Elgin branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association stood outside the Centre Street office where they claimed to be working in an environment of fear, intimidation and anxiety.
At that time, OPSEU staff representative Carol Warner asserted St. Thomas employees are consistently targeted and penalized by upper management for speaking up about health, safety and other workplace concerns.
“It’s hideous, it’s a long-standing issue,” noted Warner. “I would say it’s a systemic issue. We have grievances in the docket that are, at a minimum, four or five years old. And the grievance program has flaws as well.”
That information picket by members of OPSEU Local 133 and the allegations of workplace harassment resulted in the appointment of a third-party investigator by the Southwest Local Health Integration Network (SW LHIN) to report on CMHA Elgin’s compliance with its contractual agreement to the LHIN. Continue reading

Roundtable on rural poverty: Is the province out of touch?


yurek-legislaturejpgIs the goal of this provincial government to encourage migration from rural areas to urban centres, as suggested by one Elgin county mayor? That was one of the issues raised at a roundtable on rural poverty held Feb. 24 at the CASO station in St. Thomas and hosted by Elgin-Middlesex-London Conservative MPP Jeff Yurek.
Attended by two dozen municipal and social/community agency representatives, the forum was designed to get a sense of what rural poverty is and its impact on St. Thomas and Elgin county municipalities, explained Yurek afterward.
“What’s available and what barriers are out there for people. Too often policies are developed in Toronto with an urban lens and we need to look at it with a rural point of view. It’s different living in rural Ontario and we need to have a balance in policies to ensure we can help get people out of poverty in rural Ontario.”

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Potential difficulties with police HQ renos?


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It has been strangely quiet on the police headquarters front, albeit the petitions are still available to sign in city businesses and, no doubt, hundreds of individuals have registered their opposition to construction of a new police building.
Oddly, few if any of these ratepayers have attended the bi-weekly police building committee meetings at city hall, where both sides of the picture are being presented in a fashion that will allow an apples-to-apples cost comparison.
At the July 16 meeting, a representative from the Ventin Group confirmed a presentation will be made to council on Aug. 11 which will include the best estimate to date on the cost of a new police HQ adjacent to the Timken Centre.
Most revealing, however, was the update from Sean Panjer of SPH Engineering, which is in charge of detailing the cost of renovating the existing police station.
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We welcome your business, but not right there


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It should be a fair assumption the city has an open door policy to welcome new business to St. Thomas and make the move here as seamless as possible. Why would you operate in any other fashion?

So why are city staff — and to a lesser extent some members of city council — throwing up roadblocks and mounds of red tape in the direction of Kristie Morgan, who operates a much-needed adult day nursery at 24 Elizabeth St?

A nursery that operates six hours each weekday and employs five people in a city starved for jobs.

Yes she was afforded a small victory Monday when council allowed her to continue to operate her Time For You 2 facility in an area zoned residential, which permits churches, private schools and day nurseries limited to children under 18 with a developmental handicap.

Morgan’s operation deals with those over 18 years of age who benefit greatly from the life and social skills offered by Morgan and her staff. In the process affording much needed relief for the parents of these individuals.
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