Alberta orders fatality inquiry into death of mental health worker at home

EDMONTON – Alberta Justice Minister Verlyn Olsen is ordering a fatality inquiry into the death of a mental health worker on the job.

Valerie Wolski, 41, was providing care to a man with limited mental capacity at a home in Camrose when she was killed in February.

Terrence Wade Saddleback, 25, was charged with manslaughter, but found mentally unfit to stand trial after being charged with manslaughter.

Saddleback is currently at Alberta Hospital, subject to regular mental health assessments and his case is now in the hands of the Alberta Review Board.

The fatality inquiry won’t be scheduled until the end of an Occupational Health and Safety investigation.

The inquiry is to examine all circumstances so that such a tragedy doesn’t happen again, not to lay blame.

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Graham Jones, Saddleback’s legal guardian, said he warned the Canadian Mental Health Association that they needed to be careful with him, but he says his concerns were shrugged off.

Edmonton NDP MLA Rachel Notley has said that given Saddleback’s history of violence, his care should not have been put in the hands of the Canadian Mental Health Association.

She says numerous evaluations show he was never ready to live independently.

Notley says Saddleback was refused care at another community agency due to past violent incidents and the government should make sure in law that people who pose a threat to themselves or others are put in properly staffed public care.

A risk assessment done on Saddleback after he attacked a female staff member in Wetaskiwin, Alta., in July 2009 warned of the consequences for anyone caring for him.

It took five RCMP officers and a male staff member to subdue him using handcuffs and pepper spray.

(CHED, The Canadian Press)