Psychiatric hospital workshop to close

A sheltered workshop at Regional Mental Health Care, St. Thomas with about 80 clients is to be closed after St. Joseph's Health Care on Tuesday announced it would eliminate 59 jobs in London and St. Thomas to cut costs by $6.4 million to balance its budget.

Although their exact number was not available, staff at the Alternative to Competitive Employment program – ACE – hold the majority of nine jobs to be eliminated at the St. Thomas psychiatric hospital.

With early retirement, attrition and other factors, five people have been handed five-month notices at the Sunset Dr. institution.

ACE clients were told Tuesday the program would close.

Budget cuts or not, Dr. Gillian Kernaghan, St. Joe's president and CEO, said the program's future was in doubt.

“It was something we would look at closing, anyway. It was not something that would be our role.”

The hospital will work with clients to find other vocational opportunities, she said.

St. Joe's says yesterday's cuts may not be the last as it looks to balance its 2013-2014 budget.

The hospital said it does not yet know its funding level next year and is based on the assumption it will receive a 0 per cent increase from the province through the local health integration network.

A reduction in funding could mean further cost-cutting.

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