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OPSEU video links worker safety to patient safety at Waypoint

Penetanguishene – The Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) has released a new video that emphasizes the correlation between worker safety and patient safety at Waypoint Centre for Mental Health Care.  The video is the fourth in OPSEU’s series Through the shadows.

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Waypoint is home to some patients who have been found not criminally responsible or unfit to stand trial by the courts.  Workers say patient-on-staff attacks are becoming more frequent and more severe, and many caregivers go to work fearing for their lives.

“It’s easier to provide care to [our] clients when you have a safe environment and when the staff feel safe, because we feel that when we feel safe the patients feel safe,” says a worker in the video. 

The forensic division at Waypoint is a maximum security facility, but it was built as a general hospital.  Patient rooms should have been constructed with cement blocks and steel.  Instead, they were built with drywall.

The worker in the video – whose identity has been concealed – describes how the unsafe work environment at Waypoint also affects patients.  “Many of them want to improve and move forward in their lives and there are others that continue to present some pro-criminal behaviours.  Other clients are afraid they are going to get physically hurt by the fellows that aren’t maybe properly medicated or not properly contained in a room that’s made of drywall.” 

OPSEU is demanding that Waypoint’s management and the Ontario government make the workplace safe.  “To say the safety provisions for these workers are inadequate is a gross understatement,” said OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas, who has worked in the mental health field for most of his adult life.

“It’s deplorable that, given the patient population, there was absolutely no consideration for the safety of the caregivers or patients when this building was constructed.  This is yet another example of a public-private partnership that has failed to live up to the public’s expectations in every conceivable way.”  

Click here for video

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