The union representing workers at the forensic psychiatric hospital at Colony Farm in Coquitlam is accusing the employer of a “clear and willful pattern of neglect” after a series of recent assaults on staff.
The BC Government Employees’ Union said in a release Wednesday it has recorded 21 injuries to staff since May at the hospital, which treats people who are deemed unfit to stand trial or are found not criminally responsible because of mental illness.
“Workers are being assaulted while treating patients without risk assessments being done, with inadequate security protection,” BCGEU treasurer Paul Finch said in the release. “One could make the case that the employer is complicit in these attacks on hospital staff.”
The union said it has called for more security personnel in rooms when staff interact with potentially violent patients.
It said Dr. Connie Coniglio, the chief operating officer at BC Mental Health and Substance Use Services, has refused to bring in additional personnel because it could “increase patient anxiety and trigger violent incidents,” while citing a WorkSafeBC report in March stated more security staff does not cause violent outbreaks.
Black Press Media has reached out to the Ministry of Health for comment.
WorkSafeBC has issued 57 safety orders at the hospital and levied a $171,000 fine in the past five years, the release said, along with 102 inspection reports showing the employer’s failure to protect its workers.
The union is also asking the government to ensure the employer conduct risk assessments on patients and fill the funding gaps in risk assessments, such as self-defense training for staff.