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Unacceptable Health and Safety Concerns at Waypoint Centre for Mental Health Care

(Toronto) OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas said today that “the Toronto Sun series this week has again raised serious alarm bells on the state of Waypoint Centrefor Mental Health Care security issues which are jeopardizing the health and safety of staff members.

“So much has gone wrong at this new facility since it opened its doors. Staff warnings were completely ignored about it opening it prematurely, and their concerns remain ignored despite mounting patient attacks and security breaches. If this matter cannot be resolved by the employer, the province must step up and right what has gone so wrong.”

Staff at Waypoint have never experienced such a high number of physical assaults in such a short time period. There have been at least 13 incidents of physical assaults against staff resulting in injury since May 2014, when the new facility was opened by the P3 consortium responsible for its construction. This includes issues with patients fashioning weapons from furniture, wall sockets, and metal strappings behind the drywall. In addition, there have been chronic failures in the central computerized lock system for all areas in the facility. These failures have resulted in numerous lock downs and have placed staff — and the community — at risk. 

Most recently on June 15, a patient left his secured room brandishing a homemade sword, forcing the facility into lock down. This breach resulted in unprecedented action by the employer. The OPP was called, charges were laid against the patient and he was removed from the facility. 

Staff have persistently raised structural concerns about the new facility and have directly linked these issues with the number of serious security-related incidents.

“This brand new maximum security facility should not have the dismal security record that it does, and these matters should have been resolved by now. No one working there should be going to work petrified about getting hurt, or worse. If now is not the time for the government to step in and resolve these safety and security issues, when is the right time?” said Thomas.

“The Waypoint fiasco should not be viewed in isolation.  Work conditions at the Toronto South Detention Centre are just the same.  The health and safety of the workers is being repeatedly jeopardized because of the incompetence seen in the design and construction of the facility.

“Both Waypoint and Toronto South Detention Centre are products of the public-private partnerships that this government is so fond of.  But these so-called P3s are an epic failure. They are a terrible deal for Ontario citizens.  The private companies build sub-standard facilities at a much higher cost to the public purse.  Ontario’s Auditor General, who is the taxpayer’s watchdog, says the government has spent $8 billion more tax dollars than would have been the case if these facilities we developed by the public sector.”


For further information:
Warren (Smokey) Thomas