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Mental Health, Worker Health, Community Health

An interview with Kelly Murphy on recent cuts at the IWK

by Hillary Lindsay

Kelly Murphy at IWK Youth Workers Picket. [Photo: Miles Howe]
Kelly Murphy at IWK Youth Workers Picket. [Photo: Miles Howe]

Halifax - "It's moving backwards," says Kelly Murphy of the recent decision to cut 22 of 83 youth care workers from the IWK Health Centre’s mental health and addictions programs. "We need to increase funding and support. There should be more child and healthcare workers out there rather than less."

Murphy works at a home for adults with mental illness. She's also executive vice president of the Halifax District Dartmouth Labour Council and on the board of directors of the Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union (NSGEU).

Murphy sees a clear connection between her work in mental health and within the labour movement. "Mental illness is connected to everything because it affects so many of us," she says.

As a member of the labour movement, Murphy says she's fighting for the staff and NSGEU members that are losing their jobs at the IWK, but also for the youth who depend on the programs being affected.

"Union are involved in community," says Murphy. She argues that part of the power of unions is that they have the capacity to organize and mobilize on issues that affect their community - not just union members.

Currently, Murphy is watching her community struggle under budget cuts and is wondering why Minister of Health, Maureen MacDonald, is refusing to meet with youthcare workers, parents and youth that are affected by the cuts at the IWK. "They really undervalued the quality of care that youthcare workers provide," she says.

"If [the government] wasn't so focused on cutting corporate taxes there would be money for so much more."

You can catch Kelly Murphy speaking about the significance of the cuts at the IWK at the upcoming State of Our Unions panel discussion (part 2!) on April 12 from 6:30 - 9:00 at Just Us! Coffee House, 5896 Spring Garden Rd.

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Topics: Health
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