Sit-in at minister's office to save innovative mental health centre
TORONTO, June 1, 2012
Closing Thistletown is like closing Sick Kids' Hospital and sending
patients to community clinics
TORONTO, June 1, 2012 /CNW/ - Parents, community members, and workers
have taken their fight for children and youth to Eric Hoskins'
doorstep. They're at a sit-in at the office of the Ontario cabinet
minister responsible for closing the groundbreaking and
highly-acclaimed Thistletown Regional Centre.
The group has asked for a meeting with Hoskins, Minister of Children and
Youth Services. He has failed to meet with families of Thistletown's
415 clients. He has neither made public his transition plan nor
committed to long-term funding of Thistletown's innovative research,
programs, and treatment, now worth about $18 million.
Thistletown is a last resort for children and youth with complex mental
health, behavioural, or developmental challenges, such as extreme
autism, or who have experienced sexual abuse. Hospitals and community
agencies have turned them away. Thistletown's expert teams developed
and deliver programs that work.
"It makes no more sense to close an expert place of last resort like
Thistletown than it would to close cancer centres or Sick Kids'
Hospital and send patients to a community clinic," says Pat Balog,
Thistletown employee and president of Ontario Public Service Employees
Union Local 547. "The McGuinty government is cutting services for some
of the most needy and vulnerable people in Ontario. Our clients are
difficult to place, treat, and heal. By the time they get to us, they
have a long history, nowhere to turn, and their families are
Children's mental health services are patchwork, fragmented, and
limited. Families wait an average eight months for community agencies.
The crisis will deepen if Thistletown closes. Schools and community
agencies refer children and youth to Thistletown, which also has a
waiting list. And special education classrooms have lost 400 teaching
"Most places are not equipped to handle children and youth who wind up
at Thistletown," says Bruce McIntosh, parent of a Thistletown client."And even if they were, they can't absorb them without displacing
others. This will end badly. That much is clear. People are waiting to
get in to Thistletown, not out.
"The minister must meet with Thistletown parents as a group, not
individually. We need to get the same information at the same time from
the minister and understand completely what the government has in mind
for our children."