To: All OPSEU Members in the Ministry of the Attorney General
CC: All OPS Presidents with Ministry of the Attorney General members
Every worker has the right to go to work and come home safely to their families. I think all court employees in this province were shaken by the events of March 28 at the Brampton courthouse.
Our President Warren (Smokey) Thomas met with Local 228 members in Brampton a few days after the incident. He has pledged that OPSEU will continue to pressure the employer to not only learn from this incident, but to make courthouse safety their main priority.
Tens of thousands of criminal charges, civil actions and family law matters are handled by our courts each year. Most of the time court proceedings and the filing of court documents unfold as they should.
However, there is no question our justice system is under pressure. There has been an explosive growth of civil cases, including family law matters, with little in the way of corresponding resources. There is an increasing number of people unable to afford legal representation who are attending court unrepresented and grappling with contentious issues such as child custody.
As well, while the vast majority of people with mental health conditions rarely come into contact with the criminal justice system, mental health emergencies do arise which sometimes lead to a criminal charge being laid. Consequently, there is an interaction with our justice system and a chance for referral to much-needed services and supports.
OPSEU represents 5,300 members who work in the province"s 167 courthouses. We know you face daily stresses and pressures on the job, including:
- verbal abuse and threats
- members of the public entering restricted areas of the courthouse
- lack of in-court security officers
- in-custody parties travelling through restricted or public hallways in older courthouses
- court locations with no security screening
- large numbers of weapons being seized at locations where there is security screening.
Health and safety is not delivered to us. We have to go and get it. The rights are there but we must make our employer live up to its responsibility to keep us safe.
The health and safety experts in our union have devised a survey so we can learn what security measures are in place at your courthouse. You will find it here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/OPSEU_Courthouse_Security_Survey_2014
The survey is quick and easy to fill out. We encourage all OPSEU members who work in the courts to complete the survey. Please forward this e-mail to your OPSEU colleagues who may not be on our email list.
The information you and your colleagues provide will help us pressure the employer to put in place the necessary precautions to keep you safe.
Our courts must be safe for all. A courthouse that is safe for staff is also safe for the public whom we provide services for each day.
Ministry of the Attorney General Employee Relations Committee