Sunday, March 12, 2017

LIVELY AND INFORMED DISCUSSION ABOUT THE SUBTLETIES IN THE DISCUSSION ON YESTERDAY'S POST ABOUT RIGHTS VS. RIGHTS

Dr. Ray Baker and I got into a bit of a debate over the last post here about Human Rights vs. Public Safety. 

Because he was part of the team who developed the new IMPAIRED AT WORK protocol for the Canadian Human Rights Commission, I asked him the following:

Can an employee who appears to be impaired during his/her duties be removed for the next 24 hours?

I think this is the case in the airlines and I think the Americans are tougher than we are, yes?

His answer:

It comes down to a case of human rights vs. safety. If safety is a factor than it always trumps the individualy worker’s rights.

So, yup, safety sensitive workers ( vehicle operators, equipment operators, people who perform functions who when they mess up might hurt somebody else) or highly responsible (teachers, doctors) personnel MUST be immediately removed from the safety sensitive task if impairment is suspected.  To not do so is both a criminal and WCB offence.

Usually when they are removed, they may be sent for some sort of brief evaluation to determine the cause of impairment.  Sometimes it’s drug testing, but sometimes its a more thorough occupational medical evaluation. Then they can’t go back to work until/unless found medically fit.  Sometimes that means a treatment program followed by a period of monitoring.

Which he followed by adding:

The neat thing about this approach is this:

If a lousy employee with bad attitude is impaired at work or if he/she demonstrates unacceptable attendance, performance or behaviour, then the employer may discipline them up to firing them (just cause)

But if the employee can demonstrate a disability or disorder that could account for the impairment/attendance/performance/behaviour, then the employer is forced to “accommodate them”

But built into this is the obligation for the bad employee to:

1. undergo diagnostic evaluation and treatment planning
2. demonstrate compliance with the treatment plan
3. continue to demonstrate ongoing compliance with a continuing care plan in the case of a chronic condition with relapse potential

so either way you got them: either the employer gets back an improved worker
or the worker continues on their path and the employer will be allowed to get rid of them

Get well or get gone.

Works like a hot damn.

And I know more than a few people who are now in good recovery because their employer finally grew a spine and fired them.  That was enough of a ‘bottom’ for them to do what only they can do and seek help

Saturday, March 11, 2017

YOUR RIGHT TO DRINK OR DRUG ON THE JOB IS IN THE CHARTER AND YOUR UNION AGREES WITH IT

HUMAN RIGHTS CAN OUTWEIGH PUBLIC SAFETY

Toronto transit staff won’t likely be subject to drug tests. Howard Levitt explains why.

PETER J. THOMPSON/ FILES
Courts should place public safety first over political correctness so passengers, in the Toronto Transit Commission case, don’t have to worry about the sobriety of their driver, writes Howard Levitt.
New York, London and Sydney all have random testing for their transit workers. Although Toronto Transit Commission workers also deal with public safety every day, they probably won’t end up having to comply with random drug and alcohol tests. Why not?

The answer is that the Ontario Human Rights Code considers drug and alcohol addiction a disability and protects employees from being discriminated against by being tested. In other words, you can’t single them out, you can’t fire them and you can’t administer random drug and alcohol tests. But that doesn’t mean the TTC shouldn’t try.

When the TTC gave notice to its union that it intended to implement random drug testing of all employees in “safety-sensitive positions,” including bus, streetcar and subway operators, starting March 1, the union’s response was swift and predictable.

It argued that accusations of systemic drug and alcohol use were unfounded and that oral swabbing for illicit drugs and alcohol breathalyzer tests violated employees’ charter rights. The union filed an injunction blocking the implementation of the program, now delayed until April 1, pending a court decision.

The employer claims that drug and alcohol abuse among its workers is a big problem, and it has done its homework. Court documents cite over 100 positive employee drug and alcohol tests between 2012 and 2016. Other incidents include criminal law issues, such as employees purchasing crystal meth during breaks, consuming cocaine in the bathroom and even a TTC crane operator trafficking OxyContin and methadone. In the eyes of one TTC investigator, these are not isolated incidents, but indicative of a “culture of drug and alcohol abuse at the TTC.”

You would think that, given this evidence, random drug testing should be the next logical step. While it is, and the TTC believes it is, courts and arbitrators will almost assuredly determine otherwise.

The law says random drug testing cannot be imposed unless there is a demonstrated history of problems in the workplace related to drug or alcohol abuse, the positions are “safety sensitive,” and there is a real, demonstrable risk of injury.

Whether the TTC can meet this threshold will come down to management’s ability to establish that a few hundred positive tests over several years constitutes a systemic drug and alcohol problem in a public transit company that employs over 10,000 workers in so-called “safety sensitive” positions. My view is that it won’t.

That’s because the real issue standing in the TTC’s way has very little to do with the union and statute law. Their real fight is a series of decisions written predominantly by Human Rights Tribunal members and arbitrators in human rights cases. Until Parliament and the legislature intervene and rewrite the law to protect the public, the union will likely prevail.

Even if the TTC is ultimately granted permission to administer random drug tests, a positive test result will not result in the ability to terminate employees for cause. The employer must demonstrate that the behaviour prevents the employee from effectively and efficiently carrying out his or her duties. It must also provide employees with warnings and an opportunity to seek treatment. Only if an employer provides a reasonable treatment opportunity and the employee fails to comply and improve performance, will the employer generally have just cause for dismissal.

The TTC is acting responsibly by prioritizing public safety. Passengers should be able to rely on public transit without worrying about the sobriety of their driver. Let’s hope the court will see the issue through that prism. If not, there may be one fortunate concomitant, a public reaction against human rights tribunals placing political correctness over public safety.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

THE WHOLE PROBLEM IN A NUTSHELL

So many ordinary sensible citizens keep wondering and asking why there are so few treatment beds for addicts and in particular for young addicts.

The entire explanation was revealed yesterday.

A senior bureaucrat at Vancouver Coastal Health said it and it was reported in Metro Newspaper.

Here it is.

Wait for it, cause it's a doozy.

Now:

"ADDICTION IS NOT A CHOICE."

Uh-huh.

Addiction is not a choice.

Yes, when you pick up your glass of gin or wine at 8:05 a.m., there is actually a secret mysterious devil creature forcing your elbow to bend.

When you turn into the liquor store parking lot instead of picking up the girls after school, it's the fault of those new Nissan SUV's that are pre-programmed to always go to the booze outlet.

Right.

You see, it's beyond your control and therefore, because you cannot help yourself, self-help, like A.A. and N.A. and C.A, are all out of the question. They don't work. Fuggetit!

What you really need, you poor out of control slob, is a doctor and a pharmacist to keep you in clover.

In other words, you need the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority to manage your unmanageable life. And we will do that by legalizing all substances and giving you free doses as you like to keep you quiet.

*********************************************************************************

Nice philosophy. And helpful.

Well, pardon us if some of us still cling to the peculair belief that human values, thinking and actions are choices.

We recognize full well that there are powerful psychological and emotional mechanisms driving us towwards certain choices.

But as we have now witnessed many thousands (and heard of many millions) of people who learned about themselves and then MADE THE CHOICE to not pick up their poison ever again, often in spite of bad history, well we have come to believe that

RECOVERY IS POSSIBLE, and

CHOICE IS THE KEY.

The Health Authorities are starting from the entirely wrong place.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

LEGALIZING WITHOUT THOUGHT

Here is an excellent piece from Lawrie Mcfarlane of The Province newspaper published the other day and sent to us by our good friends Mark Steinkampf and Al Arsenault of the Odd Squad.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

REHAB FACILITIES NEEDED NOW MORE THAN EVER By: Chuck Doucette and David Berner Opinion in the Winnipeg Free Press June 15, 2016




RCMP at the Behavioral Health Foundation in late May.

Thanks to Jessica Hadley, President of the Child & Youth Care Workers’ Association of Manitoba for her excellent, timely and well-balanced commentary (Fear, frustration the norm for youth-care workers, June 7).

Ms. Hadley was writing about the May 29 attack on two workers — including a Red River College student finishing her practicum — committed by two teenage residents at the Behavioural Health Foundation’s facility in Selkirk.

The workers were viciously assaulted with a baseball bat and billiard balls and suffered serious injuries — the student is now blind in one eye — and trauma. The purpose of this obscenity, it’s believed, was to steal a truck and go party.

Over the years, BHF staff have been threatened and assaulted and there have been attempts to burn down the facility.Residents assault each other in every way imaginable and, in some cases, quite unimaginable ways.

But this is the most extreme and dreadful incident in BHF’s 45 years operating in Manitoba.

The male youth facility — which had been scheduled to close for good on June 25 — typically housed between 10 and 14 high-risk youths. Staff were scheduled at a ratio of one to four youths, except on overnight shifts, which met the licensing and accreditation standards. Many group homes have staff with considerably less.

The residents are volatile youths who come from families torn apart by generations of violence, drug and alcohol abuse, criminality and scant regard for what most people would consider basic human values.

For reasons unclear to anyone at this point, there has been a steadily increasing unwillingness to continue funding and sending at-risk youths to this wonderful program. In 2014, the BHF in Selkirk was told it was going to be shut down because of funding. In fact, the only reason why the facility remained open was so that the Red River College student could get the practicum hours needed in order to obtain her diploma.

To be clear, this kind of violent behaviour is rarely seen in a large group setting, normally the situation at this facility, where they would be surrounded by a peer group of 10 or12 others and a full complement of staff. Because of funding cuts, these two very wound-up boys and their dark histories of violence, addictions and social instabilities were only residents left.

What was BHF supposed to do, throw them out on the street? This is the work BHF has done so well for so many years with singular dedication and knowledge.

And BHF is not alone. Courageous programs across the country dare to bring youths such as this pair into their facilities and dare to embrace them and lead them into a new way of looking at the world. Acceptance, camaraderie and new concepts are thrown at these kids. "Do unto others" or "R-E-S-P-E-C-T." or "Be the Best You!" Young people who have little or no experience with being loved, or even vaguely liked, will present walls and barricades. They are suspicious of good vibes or "square" values. Their lives have been lived in chaos and it is chaos to which they naturally drift. Now they’re being asked to live with peace, reasonableness, kindness and caring for other people. Really?

One of the oldest and best youth programs in the country introduced in a rural setting in British Columbia a few years ago. Ribbons were cut, photos were taken, the funding established and then the local health authorities and the provincial government of the day did everything in their power to stymie the work.

Let’s say a 17-year-old girl says one morning, "Dad, I want to get clean." What’s the window of opportunity? About five seconds.

Reason says that father and daughter get in the car and head for the facility. But health authorities decided that the person in crisis has to be interviewed — several times — in Vancouver before she could even be considered for admission to the rural program. As if these bureaucrats have the faintest notion of how to work with kids in that situation.

This recent event at BHF is awful. But understand that those working on the front lines with volatile people begin with a foundation of trust, love and camaraderie tempered by some serious street smarts.
Today, Behavioural Health Foundation’s main facility in St. Norbert houses some 100 men, women and children, runs school programs, a daycare and myriad other activities, including sophisticated and accredited therapy and counseling.

It has been doing this successfully for more than four decades.

As conscious and conscientious citizens, we need not look far to realize we need BHF now more than ever.

Let us recognize the tragedy for what it is and not make the mistake of throwing out the baby with the bath water.

Chuck Doucette is the president and David Berner is the executive director of Drug Prevention Network Canada.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

METHADONE is a con job - an unholy alliance between addicts and doctors. For the addicts, it means no need to change; for the doctors it mean serious change in the bank account.




By , Special to Postmedia Network
First posted:

How could this medical and social disaster ever be allowed to happen? If authorities had told me that Ontario, just one Canadian province, was treating 400 addicts in methadone clinics, I’d believe them. But, the actual number is 42,000. But how many of these addicts need methadone? And what is the solution for this madness?



Dr. Theodore Dalrymple is not an arm-chair commentator on addiction. Rather, he’s an internationally renowned expert, a British psychiatrist, and prison doctor who has treated thousands of addicts over years.

In his book, Romancing Opiates, he writes that heroin is not as highly addictive as claimed, and withdrawal not as difficult as treating an alcoholic. He claims, “It’s a myth that treating the heroin addiction 'cold turkey' causes withdrawal symptoms that are virtually unbearable.”

He adds that, after witnessing withdrawal symptoms in thousands of patients, “they are hardly worse than the flu. Moreover, the sudden withdrawal of heroin is not dangerous.”

To prove his point Dalrymple reports that researchers examined the records of thousands of addicts between 1875 and 1968 who had been taken off heroin. They did not find a single death from withdrawal symptoms.

Dalrymple makes another poignant observation. He has observed addicts laughing and having a great time in his waiting room. But once inside his consulting office they acted as if they’re “in extremis.” And when he points out this abrupt change in health, they have admitted they were “blagging.”
He cites another experiment that shows how addiction is largely a myth. Morphine addicts, who believed they were being given morphine, but had only received water, reported their withdrawal symptoms had disappeared!

Dalrymple claims that the use of methadone has had a low success rate. The result is that addicts end up being treated indefinitely with medication at great cost to society. And he says doctors have a long history of treating trivial conditions dangerously with drugs such as methadone.

This prison expert says there is nothing an addict likes more than to continue his personal way of life and place the weight of responsibility for his situation somewhere other than on his own decisions.
So Dalrymple contends that a useless medical bureaucracy has been established to deal with addicts. After all, why would doctors and staff want this merry-go-round to end when it’s become financially lucrative? In effect, he says, doctors and administrators need the addicts more than the addicts need them!

I couldn’t agree more that North America has followed an asinine approach to heroin addiction that’s causing major public health problems for this country. Years ago, I interviewed Singapore authorities about how they had attacked the illegal use of drugs.

They accused North Americans of being “irresponsibly permissive.” This message was dispensed on my flight even before landing. A handout card to passengers read, “Death to drug dealers.”

Singapore authorities told me that the illegal use of heroin had been rampart in the country, and destroying young lives. Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew decided to stop this trend. He realized you should never show your teeth unless you’re prepared to bite.

Criminals quickly got his message when drug dealers were hanged.

I recently read that Alberta has a rat patrol and has been rat-free for 65 years. The Albertan policy is to take no prisoners. What a shame North America doesn’t use the same approach for humans. I’m referring to human rats that pedal illegal drugs which trigger health problems, misery and crime at a huge cost to society.

Congratulations to Dr. Dalrymple his research. So I believe he would agree that the majority of addicts would be quickly cured by sending them to northern Canada to chop wood. They would be happy to return south without the methadone. As Aristotle remarked two thousand years ago, “punishment is a form of medicine.”

I’m sure this column will be criticized by do-gooders that it’s a mortal sin to to deny methadone to addicts. But I believe health care dollars could be better utilized.