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Metal detectors could save lives at Waypoint: OPSEU

Penetanguishene – The Ontario Public Service Employees Union is calling on Waypoint Centre for Mental Health Care to install walk-through metal detectors on all of its wards and program areas.  The measure would improve safety for workers and could save lives.

Waypoint’s provincial forensic division is home to many patients who have committed serious crimes but have been found not criminally responsible or unfit to stand trial by the courts.  Right now, patients have access to ordinary items that can be used as weapons against staff.  Some of those items are readily available in, and on, the walls of patient rooms.

“We’ve seen patients take apart their rooms and use building materials like corner bead and even towel racks to make all kinds of weapons,” said OPSEU Local 329 President Pete Sheehan.  “Another patient was able to take a screwdriver from the vocational services program area, bring it back on to the ward and use it to stab one of our workers.  If we had a metal detector on the ward, that worker would not have been subjected to such a horrific attack.”

OPSEU is in the middle of a campaign to raise awareness about the dangers Waypoint workers face on the job.  A series of radio ads are running on Rock 95 in Barrie and KICX 106 in Orillia, and a new full-page ad will appear in the Midland Mirror this week.  In addition, OPSEU has produced a video series called Through the shadows, which encapsulates the health and safety concerns of actual Waypoint workers.

“We are not asking for anything extraordinary here,” said OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas, who has worked in the mental health care sector for most of his adult life. 

“Waypoint is a maximum security facility, and it has a legal obligation to protect its workers.  We are hoping that management realizes they must meet all of our safety demands – and do it soon – before another preventable tragedy occurs.”

For more information:  Pete Sheehan, 705-209-9050