Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU)

Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU)

July 10, 2008 09:30 ET

OPSEU: First Legal Test of LHIN Legislation Set for Friday

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - July 10, 2008) - The first test of legislation creating the Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs) will go before the courts on Friday.

The Ontario Public Service Employees Union wants a court to order the Central East LHIN to reconsider its decision to cut 20 existing mental health beds and cancel nine more beds under construction at the Ajax-Pickering hospital.

The union is arguing the LHIN worked with the Rouge Valley Health System (RVHS) to keep the proposed cuts secret until both organizations were able to quickly approve the plan, leaving the public and other stakeholders out of the decision-making process.

The plan was first made public March 25 after it had been approved by the RVHS board. Three days later the LHIN rubber-stamped the decision --with no public opportunity to speak to the issue.

The LHIN not only failed to consult with patients, families and health professionals directly affected by the decision, it left its own Mental Health and Addictions Steering Committee out of the process, as was mandated in the LHIN legislation brought in by the McGuinty Liberal government.

"If the LHIN's board had consulted, these cuts would likely have never been approved," says OPSEU First Vice-President/Treasurer Patty Rout.

Psychiatrists who work at the hospital say the cuts to services in Ajax will have a negative impact on mental health patients. The loss of one psychiatrist from the region has already left 500 patients looking for support in the region. These include patients who suffer from depression, schizophrenia, suicidal or violent tendencies, and anxiety/panic disorders.

The hospital plans to use the resources saved at Ajax to provide combined medical/psychiatric beds at the Centenary hospital in Scarborough. "This makes no sense," said Rout. "This is just about raiding services from one community to provide them somewhere else."

The case will be before the Ontario Superior Court of the Justice Divisional Court this Friday, July 11.

A detailed background information sheet is available.

Contact Information

    Rick Janson
    (416) 443-8888 ext 8383