"The Ministers knew lives were in danger, and they did nothing. What are they going to do now? That’s my question." — Warren (Smokey) Thomas, OPSEU President
Toronto (08 April 2016) — Two top Ontario cabinet ministers must take the blame for a violent attack that badly injured four staff at Waypoint Centre for Mental Health Care in Penetanguishene, the President of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union says.
OPSEU/NUPGE raised multiple warnings about conditions at Waypoint Centre for Mental Health
“Waypoint is a dangerous facility for staff, and it’s a dangerous facility for clients,” Warren (Smokey) Thomas said. “I’ve told that to former Health Minister Deb Matthews, and I’ve told that to current Health Minister Eric Hoskins. They were warned, and they are responsible for what happened yesterday.”
On Tuesday, a female registered nurse was attacked and stabbed in the back by a client armed with two screwdrivers. She received multiple wounds and lost consciousness during the attack. She was saved when the nurse manager intervened. His nose and jaw were broken and he was also stabbed. The client was only subdued with the help of two other staff, who were injured as well.
“I cannot count the number of times I and my union have spoken out about safety concerns at Waypoint,” Thomas said. “It’s had huge news coverage in Toronto papers. The Ministers knew lives were in danger, and they did nothing. What are they going to do now? That’s my question."
“These workers could have been killed. Someone is going to die if things don’t change at Waypoint,” he said.
Go back to a safety model of care, says Thomas
Thomas said the general hospital model of care in use at the hospital was “totally inappropriate” for the clients housed there, all of whom have been designated Not Criminally Responsible by the courts.
“The staff at Waypoint are hardworking, caring professionals who are working to deliver mental health care under extreme conditions,” he said. “We need to go back to a safety model of care, where the safety of clients and staff is on the front burner, not an afterthought."
Thomas promised, “My union will not rest until that happens.”
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