Whitby Mental Health Local 331


For Immediate Release                         September 2, 2008 

Media Advisory 

OPSEU President Smokey Thomas to attend lunch-time picket at Whitby Mental Health Centre:


WHITBY – Ontario Public Service Employees Union Local 331 members at the Whitby Mental Health Centre (WMHC) will hold a lunch-time information picket Wednesday to draw attention to poor management decisions at the facility.


OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas will speak to Local 331, pledging the 130,000 member union’s support. 

Management gave the Local 331 executive a list of more than 50 unfilled nursing positions at the Centre as part of its justification for pulling registered practical nurses (RPNs) off their already understaffed units to be reassigned into a floating pool of workers. 

“Our members are being stretched to the breaking point,” said Thomas, himself a mental health RPN from Kingston. “It’s tough to provide effective service under these conditions.”

The extreme shortages come at a time when WMHC is facing a surge in patient occupancy rates. Since divestment from the Ontario Public Service in 2006, patient occupancy has skyrocketed from 70 per cent to 95 per cent and an increase in community demand for service in the growing (905) area and the loss of Mental Health beds due to cuts at Rouge Valley, Ajax. 

Unit clerks are stressed and exhausted from all the phone calls needed to try to fill nursing shifts. The continually high occupancy rate places increased demands on the service side of the Centre, more meals, laundry, cleaning, repairs and paperwork since divestment. It also increases work load on other professionals in the Centre such as Social Workers, Occupational Therapists, Psychologists, Recreation staff, Child Care workers and more.


When: Wednesday, Sept. 3, 11 a.m 

Where: Whitby Mental Health Centre, corner of Victoria St. and Gordon St., Whitby 

Who: Warren (Smokey) Thomas (OPSEU President), Joan Gates, President OPSEU Local 331