Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU)

Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU)

November 12, 2008 13:30 ET

OPSEU Takes Down Shelters, Asks Community for Support

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Nov. 12, 2008) - The Ontario Public Service Employees Union has taken down its three bus shelter ads that asked the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health to protect its staff from violence.

The ads provoked a heated debate within the community over whether the union and the victims of the violence should publicly remain silent in the face of mounting assaults, for fear of further stigmatizing mental health patients.

"Our ads went up to address the issue of workplace violence and CAMH's responsibility to protect its employees. It has become increasingly clear that CAMH has contributed to an alternate interpretation in the community that was never intended," said Warren (Smokey) Thomas, President of the 130,000 member public service union.

OPSEU says the campaign would have never gone public had it not been for the building frustration at CAMH over the inaction of the hospital in dealing with workplace violence.

"The hospital is a dangerous place to work. When you go to work and are beaten and sexually assaulted, how is anyone expected to come to an alternate conclusion?" asks Thomas. "The fact that 23 recorded assaults took place in September should be a wake up call for everybody. Don't our members and other hospital employees deserve empathy from the community as well?"

"We know that our members face violence in all kinds of workplaces around the province and we are helping them try to change that. But what's been going on at CAMH requires attention urgently," says Thomas.

Given CAMH's new commitment to work on these issues, OPSEU will be asking for a meeting to again press for greater precautions for staff who work in the center.

It will also be challenging community agencies concerned about the stigma of violence to urge CAMH to do a better job to protect the workers who care for patients at CAMH, as well as vulnerable patients who are also at risk.

Contact Information

    Rick Janson
    (416) 443-8888 ext 8383