BCGEU President Stephanie Smith, Health Sciences Vice President Sherry Ogasawara and Component 4 PE representative Salli Rye attended a worksite tour and hosted an afternoon BBQ event at Forensic Psychiatric Hospital (FPH) on Tuesday, March 21st. During the visit, President Smith, Ogasawara and Rye spoke directly with members about the ongoing issues of violence at the workplace.
“Forensic Psychiatric Hospital and PHSA need to take immediate steps to address these violent working conditions,” said Smith. “We’ve been raising these concerns for years, and despite numerous WCB orders and fines, the violence continues.” Even shortly after Tuesday’s meeting with members there was a stabbing at the facility.
FPH has been issued 54 Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB) safety orders and 102 WCB inspection reports have been filed in the last five years. As a result of the employer's continued non-compliance with numerous orders, FPH was penalized with a $171,000 fine from WCB for failing to provide a safe workplace. President Smith will be attending the PHSA’s next quarterly meeting on June 29th to address the escalating violence and the urgent need for the employer to take action. “I am looking forward to making a presentation to the Board in June,” said Smith (their meeting scheduled for April was cancelled).
Earlier this month, President Smith sent a letter to Tim Manning, Board Chair of the Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA) expressing her concerns over the increasingly dangerous working conditions each of our members face every day. Smith also requested a meeting with Manning to discuss the situation in greater detail.
As outlined to PHSA Board Chair Tim Manning in the letter,Forensic Psychiatric Hospital is statistically one of the most violent workplaces in BC, and management has failed to take adequate steps to help reduce this violence.
Carl Roy, President and CEO of PHSA replied to President Smith’s letter last week, however the union is disappointed with PHSA’s response. PHSA fails to acknowledge that despite their efforts, staff are still regularly put in high-risk situations and people are still being hurt at the worksite.
The union disagrees with Mr. Roy's statement that the employer "encourage[s] and incentivize[s] staff to identify safety hazards, offer solutions and participate in the implementation of safety solutions targeting the hazards." Our members feel that their concerns continue to fall on deaf ears.
The BCGEU encourages workers to refuse any work that is unsafe or puts them at risk, and to call the RCMP or relevant law enforcement officers if they witness a breach of the criminal code, including physical and verbal assaults or the utterance of threats. If you have questions about this or want support, please do not hesitate to contact one of your OHS reps, shop stewards or BCGEU staff.
BCGEU represents over 270 members at Forensic Psychiatric Hospital, including health care workers, forensic security officers (FSO), dietary staff, social workers and administrative staff.
If you have any questions or concerns, please contact either: