Tag Archives: Ontario Shores

Phase II of mental health plan serves up crumbs from the health care table

Above: Arthur Gallant — one of the more inspired choices for the Mental Health and Addictions Leadership Advisory Council.

Ontario Health Minister Dr. Eric Hoskins has been doing a lot of tweeting this week about the second phase of Ontario’s 10-year Mental Health plan. You may recall that the 10-year plan really was a three-year plan in 2011, which is being followed by another three-year plan now. We presume they’ll just continue making it up as they go along.

First the good news: The government is investing $16 million to create 1,000 more supportive housing spaces, opening a 12-bed paediatric residential treatment unit at Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Services, and spending $2.75 million to improve access to mental health and reduce wait times at four of the big psychiatric hospitals – The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (Toronto), Waypoint Centre for Mental Health (Penetanguishene), The Royal Ottawa (Ottawa and Brockville), and the aforementioned Ontario Shores (Whitby). He is also creating a Mental Health and Addictions Leadership Advisory Council and is “partnering” with the province’s public health units to increase awareness, fight stigma, and promote mental health in schools and in the workplace. The largest chunk of cash — $138 million over three years — will go to community service agencies to increase access to peer support groups, treatment programs, and crisis and early intervention initiatives.

Now the bad news: It’s called perspective.

$2.75 million added to those four hospitals amounts to less than half a percentage point on the nearly $650 million a year they presently spend.

The $16 million in supportive housing will be over three years, or a little more than $5 million per year. There are 8,000 people presently waiting for supportive housing – just in Toronto alone.

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Ontario Shores under aggressive timelines to fix safety issues

Ontario Shores now has its orders from the Ministry of Labour.

It’s been almost a year since staff at the Whitby mental health centre went public with their concerns about violence at the Centre, expressing concern and frustration about a lack of meaningful action by their employer.

For all the activity Ontario Shores has shown to date, little has changed in the monthly statistics that show staff being assaulted on an almost daily basis.

Last September we noted a paper by Queen’s University faculty Dr. Heather Stuart suggests that aggressive behaviors differ dramatically in treatment units, “indicating that mental illness is not a sufficient cause for the occurrence of violence.”

Stuart states the “majority of incidents have important social/structural antecedents such as ward atmosphere, lack of clinical leadership, overcrowding, ward restrictions, lack of activities, or poorly structured activity transitions.”

Now Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Sciences has a very detailed prescription to follow from the Ministry of Labour. Limited in its scope, the Ministry of Labour is not in a position to evaluate the impact of cuts to programming at the Centre on the behavior of those in their care.

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In the age of Lean, why are health care providers telling their workers to shut up?

As a public sector union we are often left to speak for those who can’t. Members often face reprisals and discipline from their employer if they speak publicly about problems in public service delivery for which they have first-hand expert knowledge.

When they feel they cannot speak out, we all lose as both funders and users of these services.

Badly run organizations often go hand-in-hand with a culture of fear among employees. This was a lesson learned at Windsor’s Hotel Dieu hospital, where a dysfunctional staff culture led to major issues and incidents around quality of care for patients.

Supervisor Ken Deane (now the CEO) specifically noted that among management there was a culture of “fear of reprisal for speaking up” at Windsor Hotel Dieu.  Just imagine what it would be like to be a front line worker.

The irony of such workplaces is not lost on us amid all the talk about empowering front line workers through such continuous quality improvement processes as Lean. It also calls into question the government’s commitment to transparency and accountability when front line staff are effectively gagged.

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Mental Health CEOs outliers when it comes to executive pay

What is it about being a CEO of a psychiatric hospital in Ontario that warrants much greater compensation than executives of similar-sized general hospitals?

Last month we took a look at who was making more than double the Premier’s salary. While not uniform, most CEOs in that compensation range worked for very large hospitals, such as Bob Bell, who earned $753,992 in compensation for helming the University Health Network, which has an operating budget of about $1.8 billion, or Jack Kitts who earned $630,485 on a budget of $866 million as CEO of The Ottawa Hospital.

What was more surprising was that two of four major stand-alone psychiatric hospitals placed leaders on this list. Of the four CEOs, only one lists a clinical background in her on-line curriculum vitae. Dr. Catherine Zahn, President and CEO of Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), is a practising neurologist. Glenna Raymond (Ontario Shores), Carol Lambie (Waypoint) and George Weber (Royal Ottawa Group) are career administrators. Weber has an MBA with extensive advanced management training. Raymond states she is a certified health executive. Lambie is a certified general accountant, although her contract calls on her to finish her MBA by the end of 2011.

These qualifications are not unusual among Ontario hospital CEOs, yet two of four appear to be collecting compensation that is far beyond those at comparable sized facilities.

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Are there more managers and fewer front line staff? At some hospitals, absolutely

Earlier this year we issued a freedom of information request to 20 sample hospitals where OPSEU represents health care workers to understand whether managers are in fact replacing front line health care workers.

Nine of 20 hospitals reported an increase in managers proportionate to front line staff over the past five years.

It’s a frequent complaint we hear.

While the requests were sent out in February, the information took much of the year to trickle in.

Resources are getting ever tighter in the hospital world – Ontario hospitals are experiencing no increase in their base budgets this year. How hospitals allocate their funding does matter.

Some hospitals actually reduced managers – at Kingston General Hospital, for example, managers dropped from 146 in 2008 to 125 in 2012. Staff has remained almost exactly the same over the past five years at 2,453. Other hospitals that dropped managers include the Chatham Kent Health Alliance, South Grey Bruce Health Care and the Windsor Regional Hospital.

Others show that our members were right.

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The illness or the environment? Is Ontario Shores responsible for high rate of violent incidents?

Most mentally ill patients are more likely to be the victim of the violence than the perpetrator of it. Most evidence would suggest individuals experiencing mental illness are no more inclined towards violence than the general public.

Yet among Canadian psychiatrists, 50 per cent have reported to have been assaulted by a patient at least once. Whitby’s Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Sciences has experienced a rise of incidents of workplace violence in recent years. In the last three months for which we have data (May, June, July 2012), the centre has experienced 90 reported acts of physical violence.

The situation has led to an ongoing exodus from the employer. Many skilled workers choose to quit rather than continue to put their health at jeopardy. Only about a third of employees who were at the Whitby psychiatric hospital in 2006 (when it divested from the Ministry of Health) remain there today. This is an employer that used to be known for excellent retention of staff.

A 2003 paper by Queen’s University faculty Dr. Heather Stuart suggests that aggressive behaviors differ dramatically in treatment units, “indicating that mental illness is not a sufficient cause for the occurrence of violence.”

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Ontario Shores manager shows DeNiro-Stiller movie clip to intimidate staff

WHITBY – Dietary staff failed to get the joke when their Ontario Shores manager showed them a clip from the 2000 film “Meet The Parents” during a staff meeting earlier this year.

In the YouTube clip, Robert DeNiro corners his future son-in-law in a tuxedo rental dressing room after finding drug paraphernalia among the bridal party. DeNiro reminds Stiller of his “circle of trust.”

“If I can’t trust you, Greg, I have no choice but to put you outside the circle. Once you’re out, you’re out. There’s no coming back.”

“I will be watching you, studying your every move,” DeNiro warns. “I will bring you down, baby. I will bring you down to Chinatown.”

“Veiled threats of this nature are not acceptable in the modern workplace,” says Warren (Smokey) Thomas, president of the 130,000-member Ontario Public Service Employees Union which represents the workers at the Whitby mental health hospital. “Is this the message management truly wants to send to staff about their working relationship?”

OPSEU Local 331 has complained about the incident and has yet to receive either explanation or apology for the inappropriate video.

The video comes amid deteriorating labour relations at the Whitby hospital.

Draw your own conclusions: This YouTube clip is from movieclips.com:


Freedom of Information: $1637.76 to access info from 20 hospitals

Now that hospitals are subject to Freedom of Information requests, how accessible will this information really be? It all depends on the hospital and how much money you have.

It cost us $1,637.76 to find out what the ratio of staff to management was at 20 hospital corporations. That includes the $5 processing fee it takes to initiate the request.

Hospitals came under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act on January 1st of this year, although the Ontario Hospital Association sought and received additional exemption from divulging quality information under specific circumstances.

For years we have heard front line staff complain that their numbers have dwindled while the ranks of management have increased. We decided to test that question with requests to 20 randomly selected hospitals where OPSEU represents members. This includes four mental health centres – Penetanguishene’s Waypoint Centre, Whitby’s Ontario Shores, London’s St. Joseph’s Health Centre (Regional Mental Health), and the Royal Ottawa Health Care Group.

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