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MONTREAL MARCH 31, 2004- A position paper by the English Montreal School Board (EMSB) has highlighted a number of concerns with regard to the proposed reorganization of health and social services in Montreal.

The Agence de développement de réseaux locaux de services de santé et de services sociaux (Agence), formerly the Régie régionale de la santé et des services sociaux de Montréal-Centre, has proposed reorganizing health and social services in Montreal in the form of twelve local health and social service networks. The EMSB is currently serviced by 20 CLSC’s, which presently offer the services of nurses, dental hygienists, and social workers. The level of health and social services with respect to schools with a similar number of students varies not only in a CLSC within a specific territory but also between CLSCs in different territories. Services for social workers may range from an on-call service to three days per week while the services of the school nurse may range from an on-call service to 4.5 days per week. The level of such services is often determined by the size of the school population, the nature of the needs of the population, the specific allocated budgets within each CLSC territory, etc. Asks EMSB Director of Student Services Lew Lewis: "As well, will the proposed structure result in more accessible and better coordinated services to our schools?"

While the purpose of the proposal is to provide health and social services to Montrealers which would be more accessible, better coordinated, more personalized, and continuous, the EMSB has expressed particular concern regarding many elements. This includes issues such as levels and language of service, funding, organizational structures and mandates.

On April 5, a Youth Forum will be held at the Hyatt Regency (1255 Jeanne Mance) from 8:30 a.m. to Noon during which time EMSB Board-level management personnel, principals, and professionals will be participating in discussions relating to concerns regarding the continuity of services for young people, up to the age of 17, and their families.

While the Agence is calling for the newly developed health and social services centres to include the CLSC’s, hospitals and the CHSLD’s (Centres d’hébergement et de soins de longue durée), the EMSB believes hospitals should not be included within these health and social services centres. It is believed that the inclusion of hospitals would result in lesser priority being given to the school-based health and social services delivered by the CLSC’s. Concerning the two hypotheses being proposed for the Centre-West territory, which covers Côte Saint-Luc, Montreal West, Hampstead, N.D.G., Côte des Neiges, Snowdon and Park Extension, a special forum involving major constituent groups (including schools), is being strongly suggested. The EMSB also feels strongly that the issue of the inadequacy of the level and quality of English language social services, currently provided by CLSC Mercier-Est/Anjou, a pivot CLSC to schools in the east end of Montreal, must be addressed in discussion with the Ministry of Health and Social Services. Furthermore, the current level of health and social services, presently being provided to schools, should not be decreased. In fact, in view of the increasing needs being identified by school-based personnel with respect to their student population, the EMSB feels increased services should be seriously considered in certain schools with more vulnerable student populations. Access to English language health and social services, which are provided to schools, should be guaranteed in practice.

It is the EMSB’s hope that the current relationship and mutual collaboration between schools and CLSCs’ be maintained and that joint collaboration be ensured with respect to the participation of the school-based CLSC and residential CLSC in servicing a referred student and/or his family. With this in mind, school principals or their designates should represent the schools on the Board of Directors of the newly developed health and social services centres in order to provide valuable input from the school’s perspective.

Michael J. Cohen
Communications and Marketing Specialist
English Montreal School Board
Tel: (514) 483-7200 ext. 7243
Fax: (514) 483-7213