Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU)

Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU)

April 29, 2008 14:18 ET

OPSEU Asks Court to Suspend Closure of Mental Health Beds in First Legal Test of New Legislation

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - April 29, 2008) - The Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) is initiating the first test of the legislation establishing Local Health Integration Networks in 2006.

The union is asking the Ontario Superior Court today to prevent the closure of inpatient mental health beds at the Ajax-Pickering Hospital until a Judicial Review can take place. The injunction hearing is scheduled for May 16.

The union is arguing the Central East Local Health Integration Network acted improperly in making the decision behind closed doors and without community consultation, contrary to the Local Health System Integration Act.

"If the LHIN had done its job, it would have learned of the harm the closure represents to mental health patients in the West Durham community," says OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas. "It's clear the LHIN board made the decision without understanding the full impact on the community."

The Rouge Valley Health System and Central East LHIN revealed in late March the plan to close 20 acute mental health beds in Ajax and establish new medical/psychiatric beds at Centenary Hospital, 23 km away in Scarborough.

At an April 9 public meeting scheduled to discuss implementation of the plan, a thousand Ajax residents turned out to ask the LHIN to reverse its decision and save the beds. Thousands more are expected at a community march planned May 3 from Ajax City Hall at 12:30 Noon.

The union is asking that the Local Health Integration Network suspend the decision until full public consultation takes place.

"When the rubber hits the road, the LHINs owe it to their communities to provide real input on decisions that directly affect health care delivery in the community," says Thomas. "This LHIN has already damaged their credibility by acting in this manner. They have admitted they handled this badly. It's time to fix their mistake."

Contact Information

    Rick Janson
    (416) 525-3324 (Cell) or (416) 443-8888 ext 8383 (O)