(TORONTO) – OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas was expelled today from the Sheraton Centre Hotel for asking an inconvenient question about Waypoint Centre for Mental Health Care. Thomas was attending the 23rd annual Canadian Council for Public Private Partnerships’ (CCPPP) national conference.
During a question-and-answer forum hosted by government and private lawyers, Thomas asked who would take financial responsibility for the failed P3 at Waypoint – before someone got killed. Thomas went on to explain the staggering problems that P3s like Waypoint have created – boondoggles that have cost Ontarians an extra $8 billion and counting, according to Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk.
Following his question, CCPPP Administrator Carla Walmsley had Thomas escorted off the premises by hotel security staff. “Suddenly, I was surrounded by three guards. I was asked to leave with no explanation. But I gather my question on Waypoint touched a raw nerve with organizers and speakers. The word went out to shut me down.”
The Toronto Star and the Toronto Sun have reported extensively on violence at Waypoint, a new P3 psychiatric facility. The Ministry of Labour has been called in to investigate a litany of violent incidents that have threatened the lives of staff and inmates at the P3. The building has been plagued with numerous design flaws and technological problems that increase the peril to the staff’s safety. Patient rooms, fencing, lighting, doors and camera systems are just some of the safety mechanisms that require retrofitting.
“When they enter Waypoint, staff don’t know if they’ll leave alive. Incredibly, the employer refuses to co-operate with workers to get these hazards fixed. They don’t want to spend a penny more, even if it means saving lives. That’s what you get when profits take precedence over people.”
Thomas noted that secrecy was the hallmark of the Liberals’ privatization agenda. “Kathleen Wynne shut down debate in the legislature on the sale of Hydro One. She’s turned a deaf ear to the warnings of the Financial Accountability Officer, who has been forbidden access to Cabinet documents on the sell-off. She’s scorned the advice of eight independent officers of the legislature who say they won’t be able to protect Ontario consumers. And more importantly, she is ignoring the 80 per cent of Ontarians who oppose the deal.
“Now she’s in California avoiding questions from the opposition in the legislature. One can only speculate she has outsourced her own job to privatization guru Ed Clark. What a sad comment on the state of democracy in this province.
“All this coming from a government that bills itself as the most transparent in the country. If the claim weren’t so monstrous, I’d laugh. The Liberals have put in their earplugs and they’ve got their marching orders to trample anything – or anyone – that gets in the way of their privatization decrees.”