Nova Scotia

NSGEU wants improvements to Comhla Cruinn youth centre

The Nova Scotia Government Employees Union is asking the province for a long list of improvements at the Sydney youth facility, Comhla Cruinn, where a few weeks ago, it described working and living conditions as "horrific. "

Lists 17 suggestions for improving conditions it called 'horrific'

NSGEU president Joan Jessome wants 17 improvements at Comhla Cruinn youth centre for the sake of both residents and staff. (Gary Mansfield/CBC)

The Nova Scotia Government Employees Union is asking the province for a long list of improvements at a Sydney youth facility.

A few weeks ago, NSGEU president Joan Jessome described the Comhla Cruinn Youth Centre as "horrific working and living conditions."

It's now making 17 requests it says will make the centre a better place for staff and residents.

The Comhla Cruinn Youth Centre is home to eight young people between the ages of 12 and 18. 

In early February, the union representing workers held a news conference. It complained of drug use, violence, sexual activity and out of control behavior by some residents of the home. 

Jessome says the union has sent its suggestions to community services minister Joanne Bernard and Cape Breton Regional police chief Peter MacIsaac. 

'Come to the same table'

Jessome says the union would like to see a community task force created.

"Where you have police and you have community. You have staff. You have the union and representatives of those residents, that we are able to look at what needs to be changed and I think when you've got Justice, Community Services and police, all of those departments involved, they need to come to the same table at the same time."

The union also wants more training for staff. That includes a request that staff be trained to navigate and advise on "the inevitable sexual activity of residents."

"If the staff is expected to provide adult supervision to a group of 12 to 18-year-olds, they need to be able to provide the appropriate support and advice. One example is staff not being able to provide high-quality reliable condoms to residents," according to the written letter sent to the minister.

The union also asks that the children need to have "appropriate access to teachers, nurses, addiction service providers and mental health professionals.

"Some of these kids  experience traumatic events while in residence and before they get there. So what they want is immediate access, almost a critical team that would be available to come in, 'cause these kids can get in trouble and if they wait in line to be seen, that trouble gets magnified," Jessome said.

Jessome says Cape Breton Regional police chief MacIsaac has already offered to help in any way possible.

She says, since her Feb. 3, news conference, the NSGEU has not heard from the province.