PEI

P.E.I. Catholic Family Services Bureau shutting down after 89 years

The organization offered professional counselling and educational programs — many free of charge — to anyone seeking help, regardless of religion.

'It’s just really hard for us to compete in today’s market'

Catholic Family Services Bureau offered professional counselling and educational programs, many of them free of charge, to anyone seeking help. (Shane Hennessey/CBC)

A non-profit with an 89-year history on P.E.I. is shutting down.

Catholic Family Services Bureau in Charlottetown will close its doors for good on June 30.

The organization offered professional counselling and educational programs — many free of charge — to anyone seeking help, regardless of religion.

Ed MacAulay, president of Catholic Family Services Bureau on P.E.I., said it was a tough decision for the organization's board to make, but there are multiple reasons for the closure.

"It's been getting more difficult and more challenging as the challenges facing our communities get larger with mental health and addictions issues and so on," MacAulay said.

'Staff are not accepting any new referrals, so they are directing people in other directions, and they are closing their case files,' says president of P.E.I.'s Catholic Family Services Bureau Ed MacAulay. (Shane Hennessey/CBC)

"The province has responded quite, you know, as well as it can over the past couple of years, but at the same time it has kind of cost our agency, you know, the ability to kind of compete with salaries and benefits government is able to provide."

Staffing also became a challenge, as employees "are getting to a point in some of their careers and experience that they want a change and some are going into private practice," he said.

COVID-19 didn't help

MacAulay said COVID-19 didn't help matters.

"We haven't been able to keep our doors open through this and it's really important people get services when they need them and right now we really don't have staff to provide those services."

He said he is hopeful people will be able to find some of the services the organization provided, such as music therapy, elsewhere.

"It's going to be a loss, but there will be private practitioners out there for music therapy," he said.

Now will we resurrect from the ashes? I am not sure we will.— Ed MacAulay, Catholic Family Services Bureau

The provincial government offers walk-in clinics and an array of other mental health services, so MacAulay said he thinks the needs in the community will be met.

Another not for profit counselling agency on the Island is still operating. Family Service PEI is part of the umbrella organization Family Service Canada. Family Service PEI provides counselling services for mental health care, with a mandate to never turn anyone away due to an inability to pay. 

Meanwhile clients of the Catholic Family Services Bureau have been sent letters letting them know the organization would be shutting down.

"Staff are not accepting any new referrals, so they are directing people in other directions, and they are closing their case files," he said.

"Staff all have another place to go to. One person, she doesn't, but she is going to be staying on with us for a while," MacAulay said. "She will be staying with us as we close the building up."

Last year, the organization had about 2,000 clients on P.E.I. Roughly 30 per cent were children. (Shane Hennessey/CBC)

MacAulay noted two other family service offices have closed in recent years — one in Halifax and one in Moncton, N.B.

As to whether there's a future for the Catholic Family Services Bureau, MacAulay said, "Will we resurrect from the ashes? I am not sure we will. Just see where that goes at this point in time."

Last year the organization had about 2,000 clients on P.E.I. Roughly 30 per cent of those were children.

More from CBC P.E.I.

Corrections

  • A previous version of this story said an office in Saint John was closed. In fact, it remains open.
    Jun 11, 2020 8:48 AM AT

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