September 27, 2018 4:48 pm
Updated: September 27, 2018 5:35 pm

Union seeks legal opinion over HSC security guard rights and authority

WATCH: The MGEU has sought a legal opinion in the 'he said, she said' battle over whether or not Winnipeg HSC security guards have the authority needed, given the growing meth problem.

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It has become a war of words.

The union representing security guards at Winnipeg’s Health Sciences Centre has consulted a lawyer after Manitoba’s Health Minister downplayed their concerns over increasing violence related to crystal meth in hospitals.

MGEU president Michelle Gawronski says the legal advice confirms security personnel at HSC don’t have peace officer designation, and she says that needs to change.

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“Our legal opinion states, and again I quote, Health Sciences Centre security guards do not possess any special arresting powers or the ability to use any more force than any other private citizen in Manitoba.”

READ MORE:  Health Sciences Centre guards plead with province to help deal with meth violence

This comes just days after HSC security guards appealed directly to the Justice Minister and Health Minister in a letter, calling for the government to take action before someone gets hurt.

The letter noted the city’s increasing meth problem as a contributing factor.

READ MORE:  Meth crisis in Manitoba continues to soar

But Health Minister Cameron Friesen said he was disappointed in the MGEU for suggesting security officers can’t help.

“Security personnel are highly trained, especially at HSC,” Friesen said Wednesday. “I would say that those individuals have the highest level of training.”

Thursday, MGEU sent a letter to Friesen, outlining the legal opinion that security officers don’t have adequate authority.

“The violent situation is definitely happening more often. The weapon use is happening more often,” said Gawronsky.
Global News has reached out the the health minister’s office for comment.
Meanwhile, the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority has stated that they are talking with Manitoba Justice about amendments to the Mental Health Act, which would give ‘qualified persons’ the ability to pick up where police leave off.

Amy McGuinness, communications specialist with the WRHA, told Global News in an email they are not looking to have the special status given to security guards.

“To be clear, these discussions relate only to the ability of security staff to take custody of patients under the Mental Health Act, and are in no way intended to seek any increased capacity for security staff to intervene in violent situations. Officers already have the ability to do that under the Criminal Code of Canada.”

WATCH: Meth Q&A — Winnipeg police talk about the impact meth is having for health workers and the community

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