Amendments to Mental Health Act Raise Serious Concerns

May 30, 2019

The Pallister government has proclaimed amendments to the Mental Health Act which raise huge concerns for the MGEU and health care workers across the province.  The amendments will see police officers transfer over the custody of individuals awaiting an involuntary medical examination or psychiatric assessment to “a person who is trained and qualified” or in other words, health care aides and nurses.  The government has stated training will be provided.

“Does the minister really think health care workers can take on one more task with all the cuts and chaos in our health care system?  And further to that, forcing health care providers to take on security and policing responsibilities is not the solution,” said MGEU President Michelle Gawronsky.  “The safety of staff, patients and the public should be the number one priority in the event of a mental health emergency.”

The MGEU agrees that police officers should not be tied up in emergency rooms for hours upon end, but passing this off to overworked health care aides and nurses is not the answer.  The real answer is giving hospital security officers the legal authority they need to detain violent patients without fear of any repercussions. 

“With the increase in mental health issues and drug addictions, we have seen numerous examples of violence in our hospitals, and security officers keep getting mixed messages as to what they can and cannot do,” said Gawronsky.

The MGEU represents hospital security officers at Health Sciences Centre, the Brandon Regional Health Centre, Dauphin Hospital and Selkirk Mental Hospital.  The officers we represent strongly recommend they be empowered with elevated legal status to be able to act to ensure the safety of those who enter a hospital in this province. The government has introduced the Police Services Act, however there are no details included in the legislation as to how that will affect hospital security officers.

“Health care aides have their jobs.  Security officers have their jobs.  End of story.  Let each do the job they are there to provide and that’s when we can truly restore safety in our hospitals,” Gawronsky added. 

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