OPSEU demands protection for health care staff

Union calls for security at Kingston workplace

The Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) is demanding Providence Care Mental Health Services in Kingston place security on an inpatient unit where staff members have been attacked on multiple occasions.

The union filed an appeal with the Ontario Labour Relations Board (OLRB) to order the employer to put protections in place. Staff members have been threatened, choked, punched and kicked on the institution’s adult mental health unit.

An inspector from the Ministry of Labour visited the unit on Oct. 20 following an employee complaint of inadequate safety measures. According to the union, workplace violence on the unit has increased because of chronic short-staffing at night and on weekends.

“We know when staff aren’t safe, that means the patients aren’t safe either,” said OPSEU president Warren (Smokey) Thomas. “When employers break the law, we need the Ministry of Labour to make them stop. Strong enforcement of our laws is vital to address the imbalance of power in the workplace.”

In the past year, the union said, Providence Care Mental Health Services saw more than 300 incidents of workplace violence.

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