Sudbury Counselling Centre clients struggle to cope, as strike enters week 8

When Tim Worton was diagnosed with cancer five years ago, he felt like he had no control over his life. It wasn’t the first time he’d felt that way.

Nickel Belt MPP France Gélinas asks province to step in

Tim Worton says he feels like something is missing from his life, since staff at the Sudbury Counselling Centre went on strike. (Markus Schwabe/CBC)

When Tim Worton was diagnosed with cancer five years ago, he felt like he had no control over his life. It wasn't the first time he'd felt that way.

His wife sensed something was wrong, and eventually Worton revealed the difficult truth — that he had been assaulted when he was six years old.

Worton is one of the clients of the Sudbury Counselling Centre. Staff at the centre have been on strike since Oct. 16, leaving clients without access to a variety of services, including counselling for male survivors of abuse.  

"I feel like I'm missing something," said Worton.

"You're like a leaf blowing in the wind. You don't know what's going to happen, when you're going to fall. You just sort of lose that lifeline."

Clients of the Sudbury Counselling Centre are hoping for a resolution to an eight-week strike that has left them without access to 13 different counselling services. (Sudbury Counselling Centre/Facebook)

MPP asks province to step in

Worton's story was heard at Queen's Park last week, as part of Nickel Belt MPP France Gélinas' ongoing effort to have the province step in and help resolve the strike before Christmas.

"[Clients] haven't had any support for close to two months now, and if we were to go through Christmas where no negotiations take place, I know that it will mean horrendous hardship for a lot of their clients," said Gélinas, in an interview with CBC News.

The union representing the workers and management for the centre have been to the table with a government-appointed conciliator several times, but Gélinas said more can be done to put pressure on both sides.  

"This agency receives funds from four different ministries. Those ministries can pick up the phone and ask, 'How are the clients being served? What are the measures in place to make sure people in need don't go without?'"  

Nickel Belt MPP France Gélinas shared Worton's story in Queen's Park last week. (Roger Corriveau CBC)

Clients hoping for a quick resolution

Bargaining is set to resume on Dec. 8, but both the union and management say concessions will have to be made before they can come to an agreement.

Worton said he is trying to keep himself busy in the meantime, by making things to give to his grandchildren for Christmas.

He's also using the tools he discovered through counselling to deal with the flashbacks, anger and shame that he experiences.

But Worton said he misses being able to talk to his counsellor, and hopes the staff will be able to return to work soon.

"What they've done for me is just, it's indescribable. Because from the time that I walked in - which was a huge uncomfortable feeling - to now, the change in me is just out of this world."

Listen to the interview with Tim Worton on CBC's Morning North.

The Sudbury Counselling Centre strike has entered its eighth week. That's left a lot of clients without the support of their counsellor. Tim Worton is one of one of them. He joined us in studio to talk about how he's been coping. 7:54