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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Construction officially begins on Regional Mental Health Care, St. Thomas new forensic facility


Proposed St. Thomas facility

ST. THOMAS, ON, April 1 /CNW/ – Steve Peters, MPP for Elgin-Middlesex-London joined Dr. Gillian Kernaghan, President and CEO of St. Joseph’s Health Care London, St. Joseph’s staff, volunteers and patients, community members and partners for St. Joseph’s forensic mental health care building’s official groundbreaking in St. Thomas.

The St. Thomas facility will be a new 233,640 square foot hospital for forensic mental health-care built on the existing lands in St. Thomas and will replace the current facility. It will provide specialized inpatient and outpatient services, including assessment, treatment, outreach and support services to individuals with a mental illness who have come into significant contact with the criminal justice system.
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For some patients, it’s the last day for a haircut in London-St. Thomas


opseudiablogue | February 3, 2011 at 3:59 pm | URL: http://wp.me/pLpCD-dh

Tomorrow (Friday) will be the last day to get a hair cut for patients at the Regional Mental Health Centre in London and St. Thomas.

The hairdresser employed by the centre was among 20 workers let go last month due to fiscal restraint. Now staff are being asked to “assist patients by providing guidance to access hair salon services in the community.”

The Centre says “alternate arrangements are being finalized to address the need for patients who are not able to attend the community for this service.” Of course, they couldn’t say what those arrangements are.

For those who need assistance in getting their haircut, it will now require two staff to take them into the community, instead of one performing the service on site.

The e-mail to staff at the Centre prompted a flurry of replies, most questioning the wisdom of this decision.

Writes one doctor: “She offered direct patient care to those who have been unable to gain access to community services due to mental illness, physical illness or poverty. Getting one’s hair done by Brenda had greatly helped the self esteem and sense of self worth of many of my patients as well as others. Just because Brenda is not able to prescribe prozac or olanzapine does not make her contribution to clinical care any less significant.”

Another doctor stated on the e-mail chain: “Our patients are already “marginalized” and stigmatized by the society at large. By taking away what little they do have we are also promoting, aiding and abetting this STIGMA ourselves. How can we then tell our peers in the non-mental health settings and the society at large to dispel this stigma?”

“The kinds of activities that contribute to our patient’s dignity and self-worth are being eroded.”


Twenty more mental health layoffs in London-St. Thomas

From opseudiablogue

LONDON — Mental health services at Regional Mental Health Centre – London and St. Thomas have been place in jeopardy as a result of 20 layoffs announced yesterday.

The Ontario Public Service Employees Union received notice from the Regional Mental Health Centre that the positions will be gone effective May 12, 2011 due to budget restraint.

These positions include nurses, therapists, recreationist, social worker, clerical, dietary and housekeeping staff.

“The province just spent $495,000 to a private consultant to work on phase III of a 10-year mental health plan while on the ground mental health workers continue to lose their jobs,” says Warren (Smokey) Thomas, President of the 130,000-member public-sector union. “It’s getting harder and harder to believe the Ontario government is serious about improving mental health services.”

The only hairdresser serving clients at the centre is among those receiving layoff today, raising questions around how some patients will be able to maintain their grooming.

“It’s likely the families of patients will have to make arrangements at their own expense,” says Kim McDowell, Presidennt of OPSEU Local 152. “The kinds of activities that contribute to our patient’s dignity and self-worth are being eroded.”

Skills programming for patients at the centre will be reduced as both workshop activation therapists are losing their jobs.

The layoffs follow on the heels of the recent layoff of 28 child and youth workers at Whitby’s Ontario Shores in December.

Last November 85 staff left Regional Mental Health – London and St. Thomas as part of a transfer of beds to Grand River hospital in Cambridge.

See also The future of mental health care in St. Thomas-Elgin is the thin edge of the wedge and What might have been the future in mental health care.

LHIN consultation guidelines can’t come soon enough


As posted on opseudiablogue

The province has promised to provide community engagement guidelines to the Local Health Integration Networks following this summer’s Ombudsman’s Report.

In that report, the Ombudsman noted a board member of the Hamilton Niagara Haldimand Brant LHIN considered conversations on golf courses and grocery store line-ups as public consultation.

The guidelines, expected in October, can’t arrive soon enough.

At Wednesday’s board meeting of the South West LHIN, Dr. Murray Bryant said an integration proposal from St. Joseph’s Health Care and London Health Sciences “failed the most cursory test” when it came to public engagement.
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