"These workers are telling their stories because they fear someone is going to get killed at work. How much more blood needs to be spilled before they are heard?” — Warren (Smokey) Thomas, OPSEU President
Toronto (26 July 2016) — The Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU/NUPGE) has released a new video that highlights the multitude of problems with security equipment at Waypoint Centre for Mental Health Care.
Technology often fails — workers lose confidence in safety measures
Waypoint is home to some patients who have been found not criminally responsible or unfit to stand trial by the courts. Workers say patient-on-staff attacks are becoming more frequent and more severe since the move to a new building in May of 2014. The security equipment that is supposed to protect caregivers often malfunctions, and staff are not confident they will receive the help they need in the event of an attack.
In the third installment of OPSEU’s video series Through the shadows, a worker describes the current security situation at Waypoint. “The technology that was supposed to make things simpler fails quite often, which results in lockdowns, which results in patients getting agitated, which in the long run makes things more dangerous.”
Metal detectors could improve safety for patients and workers
Adding to the already dangerous situation for workers at Waypoint is a lack of metal detectors in key areas of the maximum security facility. In April of this year, a patient was able to take a screwdriver from a job training program, bring it back to the ward, and use it to stab a nurse in the back. Since then, there have been at least three more incidents of patients attacking caregivers.
“We are continuing to put pressure on Waypoint and the Ontario government to take a good look at what’s happening at this workplace and take concrete steps to improve worker health and safety ,” says OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas, who has worked in the mental health field for most of his adult life.
“I encourage everyone to watch these videos and to understand the bravery and the desperation of these workers. They are telling their stories because they fear someone is going to get killed at work. How much more blood needs to be spilled before they are heard?, Thomas said.
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 360,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE