Halifax - Members of Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union (NSGEU) Local 22, the IWK Health Care Workers, today continued their protest against the recent slashing of 22 youth-care worker jobs with an early-morning info picket at the Dartmouth Sportsplex.
The job cuts will effectively end the "24/7" care to youth engaged in “stay-in” programs such as the IWK Hospital's Adolescent Centre for Treatment (ACT), and Compass. Youth receiving rehabilitative mental health treatment may now be looking for alternative treatment, and potentially lodgings, over the weekend, where IWK-administed treatment stands to be unavailable.
"Instead of getting 24/7 treatment, [ACT and Compass] are being cut to 24/5," says Peter Perry, president of NSGEU local 22. "So a lot of these patients who are being protected from negative stimulus, or are being treated for addictions and other severe mental afflictions...Now on Fridays at 3pm, they're being reintroduced to the stimulus that helped cause those problems."
Perry notes that in the long-term these job cuts stand to increase costs to the provincial health care budget.
"These patients will be in the system longer, because it will take them longer to get through their progams," says Perry. "It's all about money, its not about patient care."
These job cuts are rendered all the more problematic due to the fact that the provincial government remains long overdue in unveiling its "Mental Health Strategy". Without an overarching set of guidelines, many, including provincial Liberal Health critic Leo Glavine, are calling for an end to what they perceive to be cuts to a "broken" system.
Direct action against the cuts to youth-care worker positions at the IWK continues this Thursday, March 29, on the Hollis Street side of the Nova Scotia Legislature from 1:30 pm to 2:30 pm.