It’s been almost seven years since John Wilson vowed to become more active in school board issues.
In December, 2002, in his capacity as Elgin county warden, Wilson nearly blew a gasket when London trustee Joyce Bennett was re-elected as chairman of the Thames Valley District School Board.
The move effectively ended an accepted practice whereby each chairman served a one-year term and the position alternated between a London trustee and a representative from either Elgin, Oxford or Middlesex county.
“We don’t intend to stand idly by and have our communities torn apart simply because of someone who doesn’t understand what’s going on within the communities,” Wilson told the Times-Journal at the time.
A month ago in City Scope, we talked with James Mendonca, who retired as director of the Crisis and Relapse Prevention Service (CRPS) in St. Thomas in 2003.
At the time, he warned the crisis portion of the service housed at Regional Mental Health Care, St. Thomas will soon be eliminated and crisis calls will now be fielded by the local Canadian Mental Health Association office, resulting in a fragmented service in lieu of the multi-disciplinary integrated service that has admirably served St. Thomas and Elgin residents for more than 30 years.
Proposed funding cuts in Elgin county are the thin edge of the wedge — cost-saving measures that may make sense in a business model, but when you’re dealing with mental-health issues, you may be saving dollars, but don’t people count?
Paring back of the outpatient Crisis and Relapse Prevention Service (CRPS) based at Regional Mental Health Care, St. Thomas, accessible to the public and physicians for the past 34 years, is another tragic example of a funding bias on the part of the province.
On Oct. 18 of last year this corner editorialized on the need for our municipal officials to gather with their counterparts throughout the county to hold an economic summit to deal with the staggering job losses in St. Thomas and Elgin.
They have failed to act on this, instead Mayor Cliff Barwick jetted off to Japan for a two-week junket that accomplished little. In fact, Barwick would have been far better off visiting Pittsburgh to see how that former rust belt city has magnificently transformed itself.
Over the past two weeks this corner has delved into the future of mental health care beds in St. Thomas, with the prospect of hundreds of jobs lost over the next five years, according to Kim McDowell president, local 152 Regional Mental Health Care London and St. Thomas.
In a letter to City Scope, the integrated vice-president of mental health programs for Regional Mental Health Care London and St. Thomas advises new acute mental health care beds planned for St. Thomas-Elgin General Hospital will not ultimately cause the closure of the St. Thomas facility.
In City Scope last week, a reader familiar with programs now delivered at Regional Mental Health Care – St. Thomas called to advise the $900,000 investment by the province to proceed with planning for a 15-bed mental health unit in St. Thomas-Elgin General Hospital will, in fact, impact negatively on the community.
The existing facility currently houses 23 assessment beds on top of numerous other beds required by the community. That is in addition to a full out-patient department with staff and doctors who will be will be impacted.
The community has no idea what is coming down the pipeline for mental health services in St. Thomas and it’s a pretty scary outlook, she cautioned. Continue reading