More violence at Forensic Psychiatric Hospital as BCGEU calls on PHSA board to take action

"We await PHSA's response and hope they take the opportunity to work with the union to turn things around at this facility, and quickly." — Stephanie Smith, BCGEU President

Vancouver (10 July 2017) — Another staff member at the Forensic Psychiatric Hospital (FPH) in Coquitlam, B.C., operated by the Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA), has been assaulted after being asked to escort a patient exhibiting aggressive behaviour to a seclusion room. Staff members are not provided with protective gear at FPH.

Hospital staff aren't equipped to handle dangerous individuals remanded by the courts

"The ongoing violence at FPH is due to an imbalance created by bringing dangerous individuals, remanded to the facility by the courts, into a hospital setting where staff are not equipped with protective gear," says Stephanie Smith, President of the B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union (BCGEU/NUPGE). "For too long, the therapeutic interests of patients have been pursued at the expense of staff safety and we have called on the PHSA to bring this into balance."

BCGEU/NUPGE wants to work with PHSA to address issues

On June 29, President Smith delivered a presentation at the PHSA Open Board of Directors meeting to ensure the board is well-informed of the dangerous conditions at the facility, and to call on the PHSA to take both long-term and immediate actions to improve onsite safety.

 "While we are troubled to hear about another assault, we were encouraged by the response at the meeting as the board chair assured us we all share the same goal — to keep workers safe in their workplace," says Smith. "We await PHSA's response and hope they take the opportunity to work with the union to turn things around at this facility, and quickly."

Violence prevention key to workers' safety

FPH has been issued 54 Workers' Compensation Board (WCB) safety orders and 102 WCB inspection reports have been filed in the last 5 years, mostly resulting from the employer's failure to protect workers from violence. The WCB issued a fine of $171,000 in the fall of 2016 for extremely dangerous conditions at the facility, yet the violence continues.

Over 270 BCGEU/NUPGE members work at the Forensic Psychiatric Hospital, including 130 health care workers, 15 forensic security officers, 25 dietary staff, 7 social workers and 27 administrative staff.

Click here to see the letter sent to the PHSA President and CEO following the BCGEU/NUPGE presentation at the open Board of Directors meeting on June 29.

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The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 370,000 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