By Letter to the Editor on December 21, 2019.
No question the death of Calgary social worker Deborah Onwu was a horrible, unnecessary tragedy, but U of C Faculty of Social Work spokesperson Jummy Asiyanbi (“Action needed to end workplace violence in social care,” Herald, Dec 10) does not have the solution.
I do not believe a “two-to-one staff client ratio” is the core solution, particularly when dealing with “clients” with a history of violence. The person who allegedly killed Ms. Onwu had such a history and should have been in protective custody, not living free, putting lives in danger. Blaming “inadequate funding,” “regulatory oversight and monitoring,” “training,” and “poor working conditions” will not protect workers or the public now or in the future.
We as citizens need to insist that violent people be removed from society; placed in protective custody and dealt with in an environment protective of everyone (including themselves), not just social workers. Dec 10, the day the Asiyanbi letter to the editor appeared in The Herald, we learned that all five people involved in the life-threatening stabbing of a 16-year-old kid in an alley along the 200 block of Mayor Magrath Drive had been arrested, then released “on a recognizance by a justice of the peace to appear in court.”
Beautiful! Now, we have five people all potentially capable of extreme violence, freely roaming Lethbridge! Whose idea is it that such lunacy leads to citizen confidence and a safer city? On the front page of the same issue of this paper, Police Chief Woods requests taxpayers pony up $4 million to fund more officers. Will more LPS officers arresting more criminals – who within hours are released by a justice of the peace, debasing all that went into arresting them – solve escalating crime in Lethbridge?
If an inadequate judicial system continues to deal with crime and criminals by freeing them before they’re cleaned up and safe, no number of new police officers, watchers, red coats or social workers will deliver to the citizens of Lethbridge a safer city. There is a better way and we should insist upon it!
Alvin W. Shier