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If it’s not broken, why fix it?


On Mar. 23, 2014, I was informed that the Honourable Paul Davis, minister of Child, Youth and Family Services, would announce details regarding level four staffed residential placements the following day that would result in the closure of the T.J. McDonald Achievement Home located in Burin.

My first question was: Why haven’t we heard about this prior to tonight?

It wasn’t until the following day that I was informed that there were no prior discussions related to the closure held with anyone associated with the T.J. McDonald Achievement Home. I am shocked, concerned and disappointed

I have served as a member of the Board of Directors of the T.J. McDonald Achievement Home since 2003, representing the Burin Town Council. I have grown to respect and admire the staff and the Board of Directors for their expertise, concern, support and consideration for the youth who have complex emotional, behavioural and other specialized needs.

The T.J. McDonald Achievement Home has and continues to care for such youth since 1992. Why is our provincial government intent on closing this and other similar facilities, layoff the staff and have the youth cared for by another provider at another location? Why private sector employees and not public sector employees? The staff at the T.J. McDonald Achievement Home, excluding the executive director, are members of a public sector union (NAPE). Is this an attempt to privatize a sector of the public health care system in our province?

The staff at the T.J. McDonald Achievement Home continues to provide quality programs and services. There are 18 staff members, 10 of whom have 20-plus years working with youth, and the remaining eight with between seven and 15 years of experience. Seven staff members are university educated. Five staff members have completed child and youth care worker programs. Two have law and security programs. There is a recreation specialist and an adult basic education instructor. One staff member has early children education credentials and another a business administration degree. Why can’t our provincial government provide further training if it feels it’s necessary?

The staff at the T.J. McDonald Achievement Home live in Burin and other neighbouring towns and communities. The staff spend a large portion of their hard-earned income in our region. They provide many other very important public services to our area including as volunteers.  

Our provincial government must reconsider its decision to close the T.J. McDonald Achievement Home and other similar facilities.

Everett Farwell,

Burin

 

Editor’s note: Mr. Farwell’s is a councillor with the Town of Burin as well as a member T.J. McDonald Achievement Home’s Board of Directors. He stressed the opinions contained in this letter are his own and not necessarily those of either organization.  

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