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CAMH facing charges: Assaults on nurses


Toronto – Today, the court will hear a case against the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) under the Occupational Health and Safety Act. One nurse in the case was so badly assaulted by a patient at CAMH in January 2014 that she was left with serious vision impairment. Nancy Pridham, President of Local 500, said of the nurse, “the trauma she experienced has left her so fearful, it is unlikely she can ever work again.” A second nurse in the case was also seriously injured following an assault that happened at the hospital. Neither employee ever returned to work.

The hearing will be held at Old City Hall at 2:00p.m. Monday, before Justice Bigelow.

The trial coincides with the Faas Foundation’s announcement that it has withdrawn its $1 million donation from CAMH’s Well@Work program after CAMH failed to demonstrate that the first instalment was used towards the designated program.

“This is a symptom of a massive, systemic management problem around violence and psychological safety we see in mental health care,” said Ontario Public Service Employees Union President Warren (Smokey) Thomas. “My members have been pushing for years to see hospitals take this issue seriously and implement the necessary safeties.”

This is not the first charge of its kind at CAMH. In 2009, the hospital was fined $70,000 after pleading guilty to two charges under the Occupational Health and Safety Act following two separate incidents involving nurses who were assaulted on the job.

“How many trials do we have to see before something finally changes?” asked Pridham. “We know employees experience vicarious trauma on a daily basis, reading transcripts about pedophiles, hearing horrific stories of abuse, and that they have witnessed repeated assaults on their own colleagues.

“What does CAMH offer, you ask? Online surveys for staff. An online survey doesn’t scratch the surface of what we need,” Pridham said.

“We need safe workplaces now.”

For more information: Nancy Pridham, 416-625-6364, or Warren (Smokey) Thomas, 613-329-1931