Newsletter from the President of Local 500

A Glance back…

Incredible really, another year has flown past and we are chock-a-block FULL to the brim with all that occurs at this time of year.

Rather than slowing down now, the pace has doubled really: the volume of calls and the number of meetings have increased. The steward body is routinely involved in Return to Work meetings, discipline meetings, Health and Safety meetings and individual and group meetings with our members daily.

This is of course on top of all of the other initiatives within CAMH the Union is involved with.

The year has been inspirational as well as disappointing, with Health and Safety as a focal point.

We made positive gains where the Health and Safety of our members is concerned. The Union now sits at a Workplace Violence Committee table chaired by the CEO Catherine Zahn.

We are all working as a team, both Union and Management, to move the agenda forward and ensure we have a safe and healthy workplace.

Be assured your OPSEU Health and Safety team at all sites is knowledgeable, skilled and trained to deal with your issues should you find yourself in an unsafe position.

We held an ALL staff BBQ this past summer for the first time since the old Government days and it was so successful, people at ARF were lined up down the hallway, people were laughing and chatting, and folks told me it was like the old ARF, of a decade ago. It was nice to hear.

At Queen Street we served hundreds of people in what seemed like a line from the BBQ of Unit 4 extending all the way back to the maintenance building. It sure was fun.

Health and Safety initiatives have of course uncovered some serious concerns regarding safety at CAMH.

We are seeing evidence of increased horizontal violence taking place. Issues between employees are beginning to hit the SCORE reports–racial tensions, people threatening each other, speaking to each other in inappropriate ways, behaving in an unprofessional manner toward each other; and now employees documenting the issues, via SCORE reports.

Sadly, this speaks to the culture which has taken over CAMH.

I struggle daily to understand how we got here, who is responsible, what are we going to do? Our mental health is in jeopardy, at an organization where we are expected to provide top-notch mental health services. I have no real answers but for those who know me, you know I am not sitting idly by simply wondering. I have spoken about the issues, to HR, to the CEO, to many of you in our most recent general membership meeting…it is very unsettling. We, as the Union are meeting with the broader “leadership” of CAMH on December 20 to discuss some of what has been and is taking place.

I can tell you because I am an old bird that at one point we cared about each other. We deeply cared about our practice, our work, our clients and we always asked if anyone else needed a hand. It mattered. We liked each other. Yes, those days are gone.

This however has been encouraged, and nurtured and planned. Managers seem to be unaware of their role today, as much as the doctors appear to not know their role, as much as employees we are not certain who is giving the orders, and what our role is. And then we have Human Resources supporting managers carte blanche, as if they were the Union for management.

There are a number of us working together trying to shift this culture, and we all know there are a few working hard to ensure that does not happen.

We will get better–we can see it from where we sit, from what we hear and read and know. We need you more than ever as members and employees: we need you to help us shift the culture also. We have been seen on programs recently asking all of you to help. Please fill out the surveys, please participate and have a voice, only from your own experiences can CAMH learn, and act accordingly. Choose to learn your Collective Agreement, so you have knowledge and are aware of your rights in the workplace. Speak up.

We are coming home, great timing! Local 500 is coming back to CAMH next week. Unit 1 Basement is our new digs, the corner office to the left of the elevator. Watch for our new information on how to reach us shortly.

2018 is rapidly approaching, go ahead-glance back… now look ahead and look around, you have time to make change. Become involved, stand up for each other, stand up for your work.

May all of you find a peaceful space…a few days off and a well-deserved rest!

See you next year!

(Nancy Pridham, President, OPSEU Local 500)

About opseulocal500

Union office Unit 1, B-2A, (Basement, room 2A), Queen Street West Site 1001 Queen Street West Toronto, ON M6J 1H4 Tel: 416 535-8501 x32330 Fax: 416-583-1254 Email:
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