HSABC member John David Bland fatally stabbed

Mental health employee had only two shifts remaining before he was scheduled to retire.

John David BlandVancouver (23 Jan. 2005) - John David Bland, a mental health worker, was fatally stabbed in a parkade after leaving the offices of the Richmond Mental Health team on Jan. 19.

The 62-year-old man was found by co-workers. He was able to give police a description of his attacker before losing consciousness. Roy Dalen, a 49-year-old Richmond man, has been charged with murder. He remains in custody.

Cindy Stewart, president of HSABC, is calling for a review of workplace safety for health-care workers. "This can't be seen as isolated," Stewart said. "This needs a broader review."

An estimated 5-10% of claims filed by health care workers and accepted by the Workers Compensation Board are related to workplace violence, Stewart says.

The killing shocked his colleagues, who described Bland as a dedicated and gentle man. A spokesperson for the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority said colleagues recalled him as "one of the nicest guys" and someone who was always eager to learn new approaches to his work.


Two shifts left

An RCMP spokesman said Bland had only two shifts remaining before he was due to retire. He was ambushed as he walked out of an employees' exit into the third floor of the parkade. The motivation of the attacker has not been reported.

A member of the Health Sciences Association of B.C. (HSABC/NUPGE), Bland was a vocational therapist who helped people prepare for jobs with community organizations and private companies. He had worked in the mental health field for more than 30 years.

It was the second assault on a B.C. public employee within a week. Days earlier, a social worker in Saanich was injured in a stabbing incident at a recreation centre. A client was later charged with attempted murder.

Provincial government officials have asked the public not to draw any conclusions as a result of the incidents.


The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 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