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​Charges against Waypoint haven’t stopped injuries to staff: OPSEU

Penetanguishene – Ministry of Labour charges against the Waypoint Centre for Mental Health Care haven’t done anything to stem the flow of injured hospital staff to the local Emergency Room, the Ontario Public Service Employees Union says.

“In an eight-day span in August, we had 11 people sent to hospital with injuries received from patients who turned violent,” said Pete Sheehan, president of OPSEU Local 329. “Our members are going to emergency with concussions, nerve damage, dislocated joints, fractured teeth, sprains, bruising – you name it. In the last year-and-a-half we’ve had dozens of staff sent to hospital.”

Sheehan made the comments after Waypoint announced that it had pleaded guilty to a charge laid by the Ministry of Labour after an incident in April 2016. In that incident, a client armed with two screwdrivers attacked a nurse, seriously injuring her and other staff who intervened. In pleading guilty to the charge, Waypoint conceded that it had failed to put in place “measures and procedures” to protect the worker. Waypoint has offered to pay a fine of $40,000; the Crown is asking for a $100,000 fine.

OPSEU’s Sheehan said measures on paper were not going to make Waypoint safe.

“We need more staffing, we need stable staffing, and we need both sufficient therapeutic staff and dedicated security staff on all wards and patient areas so that the people trying to establish a therapeutic relationship with clients are not the same people expected to provide security.”

OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas said the money Waypoint will pay as a fine would be better spent on making the hospital safer and called on Waypoint to start listening to the union on health and safety issues.

“We’ve been talking about safety at Waypoint for years, literally,” said Thomas. “Clearly management is either unable or unwilling to resolve safety issues. Maybe it's time (Health and Long-Term Care) Minister Hoskins did.”

For more information: Pete Sheehan, 705-209-9050; Warren (Smokey) Thomas, 613-329-1931