On a daily basis, members of OPSEU contact the office looking for assistance and guidance navigating the system of our Insurer (Desjardin), and Occupational Health, Safety and Wellness here at CAMH.
The sad reality for the employees of CAMH has been the systematic refusal of the employer and the Insurer to recognize that employees working at CAMH may from time to time experience a relapse in their illness and require a period of recovery—like any individual we may treat on a daily basis.
There is also the very real possibility that employees become ill in the course of their work life due to the environment at work (like PTSD), and this is again something employees have no control over, but certainly should be validated in the course of the work we perform.
Why is it so difficult for CAMH to respond or acknowledge their own employees may have mental health issues? We think, when any organization answers only to Finance or responds only to financial burdens or restraints, they clearly have limited ability to focus on their employees or clients. Employees simply become numbers or dollar signs on a piece of paper, and the focus becomes the decrease of that number, not a focus on good health or wellness.
The organization also writes Policies which limit or impede your ability to be well and maintain good health—as opposed to dealing with individuals who may or may not exceed or take advantage of available sick time.
This too is a savings of dollars for the organization, but the cost to an individual or employee is monumental in some cases, and places an unnecessary financial burden which further complicates the notion of overall wellness.
What we do recognize as a Union within this organization, is that our employees/members are falling through the cracks. Employees and our members are reeling from PTSD, anxiety disorders, depression and a myriad of other issues that at any given time may become exacerbated by the next incident, within the workplace.
There is not simply a philosophical difference in how people are treated. We like to refer to the notion of humanity and the CAMH philosophy of “transforming lives” and how it does not apply to the people who work within the walls of CAMH. When it relates to the employee, it is all about the financial burden to the organization, not your overall health and well being.
How many psychiatrist reports does one employee require in order to substantiate an illness-which is long established and long documented? How many individual letters of counselling should one receive until they get the message-illness is not tolerated at CAMH? How should one cope in an organization whose focus is on the best possible treatment for mental illness, but does NOT practice this for their employees?
The senior bureaucrats at CAMH continue to receive bonus monies, and they continue to write policy which hinders employees rather than promote wellness and support improvements.
The Union will continue to respond to your issues as they arise, in the workplace. We will be responsive, supportive and assist with navigating a system with little interest in employee wellness.