You’d expect a healthy workplace environment at the Canadian Mental Health Association, wouldn’t you?


city_scope_logo-cmykThey deal with some of the most vulnerable members of the community, but staff at the Elgin branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association say they are struggling with their own unbearable stress.
And now, members of OPSEU Local 133 are breaking the silence.
Bolstered by CMHA members from Oxford, about two dozen staff took a stand outside the Centre Street office where they claim to be working in an environment of fear, intimidation and anxiety.
According to Carol Warner, OPSEU staff representative, 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,” notes 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.
“If one decides to, they can influence how quickly or how slowly the grievance process unfolds.” Continue reading

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Who suffers when you can’t get there from here?


city_scope_logo-cmykLow-income families, young people, seniors and those with disabilities are the most disadvantaged when a rural area does not have access to good public transportation.
That was the message Thursday (March 23) at a rural public workshop hosted by Elgin St. Thomas Public Health and  attended by close to 30 participants.
The aim of the three-hour forum was to get the ball rolling on development of a community transportation system for St. Thomas and Elgin county.
Opening speaker Dr. Joyce Locke, the area’s medical officer of health, noted 35 per cent of Elgin’s population lives in rural areas, with personal vehicles being the most popular form of transportation.
In fact, advised Locke, 86 per cent of those living in St. Thomas/Elgin drive to work, with the average annual cost of operating a vehicle running in the neighbourhood of $7,300.

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A big ‘if’ looming over proposed west end community hub


city_scope_logo-cmykIt’s fast approaching the one-year anniversary of the announcement last April the city has extended a conditional offer to London developer Shmuel Farhi to purchase a vacant plot of land on the south side of Talbot St., between William and Queen streets, and extending to Centre Street.

The site is being considered for development of a community hub to house the Ontario Works department and the Central Community Health Centre, both currently occupying office space along the north side of Talbot Street. The possibility also exists the site could be used for affordable housing units.

In the intervening months, the city has undertaken due diligence. Time is becoming a factor, however, as the lease on the Mickleborough building at 423 Talbot Street current home of Ontario Works and also owned by Farhi, expires later this year.

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Departing CEO leaves St. Thomas Elgin General Hospital in good health


city_scope_logo-cmykOn his penultimate day as president and CEO of St. Thomas Elgin General Hospital, Paul Collins reflected on a career that dates back to 1989, the last 15 years at the helm.

With construction crews clearly visible out the office window and Collins enjoying his final week bidding farewell to administration and staff, we asked him what was going through his mind as he drove in Thursday morning past the hustle and bustle of the Great Expansion.

Surely he must be swirling in a mix-master of emotions.

“Relief,” was the short, single-word answer.

Sensing my puzzlement he continued. Continue reading

Sutherland Saga sees St. Thomas held for ransom


city_scope_logo-cmykJust when we thought the Sutherland Saga could not plunge deeper into the abyss of absurdity, what happens but it does just that.

In a decision rendered Tuesday (Sept. 27), Justice Gorman declined to rule on owner David McGee’s request for an injunction to halt demolition of the four-storey structure deemed unsafe by city engineers.

Instead, Justice Gorman did accept McGee’s submission at the May hearing in the Elgin County Courthouse that Sutherland Loft Inc. did not receive notice of a building order and its president was unaware, specifically, the building might be demolished if not remediated by the owner. Continue reading

What’s it like living next door to a disaster?


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She lives in a well-maintained, tree-shaded 1890’s-era house on Kains St. Pride of ownership includes custom stain glass windows inside, one of which once graced Alma College.

Sounds like an ideal abode to retreat to.

Not quite, cautions owner Pauline Wimbush.

“I live next door to a disaster.”

She is referring to the abandoned and derelict cottage-style house at 46 Kains St.

A quaint residence that, in its prime, no doubt could have been described as picture postcard perfect.

Today it is a vermin-infested tragedy in waiting. Continue reading

My acclamation? Sorry, no comment on that


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He’s the hottest and sexiest political commodity in the country right now and surely any number of eager, imaginative up-and-comers would love to be a player on the Justin Trudeau team as it readies for the 2015 federal election.

And yet we are expected to believe not one single motivated individual stepped forward to challenge Lori Baldwin-Sands for the Liberal nomination in Elgin-Middlesex-London?

The former St. Thomas alderman will be acclaimed on Nov. 20 at a nomination meeting to be held at the Knights of Columbus Hall.

That’s right, it was no contest.
Continue reading