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The Current Transcript for November 6, 2017
Host: Anna Maria Tremonti
STORIES FROM THIS EPISODE
Listen to the full episode
ANNA MARIA TREMONTI: The jubilation was instantaneous on the day three weeks ago that ISIS was officially driven from Raqqa. The Islamic state ruled the northern Syrian city with unthinkable brutality and both at surviving still billions and its landscape have been devastated and scarred by what ISIS has done. It is still volatile with pockets of fighters likely hiding and booby traps and mines still waiting to be triggered. The CBC's Adrienne Arsenault has just returned from Raqqa. She joins me in just a moment. Also today, paper trail:
We've taken these documents to experts at taxes and they said “look they can't come to any definitive conclusion” but what they see looks deceptive. It could be possibly [unintelligible] actions and what they say is this something that the CRA should be taking a look at.
AMT: Thousands of documents make up the paradise papers leaked files pointing to which wealthy individuals and entities worldwide are using tax havens, often in ways that Canada and other nations allow. But as the Trudeau government continues to pledge tax fairness, how might it explain what's been exposed in those documents? That story in half an hour. And dangerous job.
As I try to put the magnetic restraint on him, he got loose. He struck me under the jaw. My first thing in my mind wasn't that I was hurt. It was: “My God! He's going to hurt someone else.”
AMT: Scott Sharp was not fighting a war. He wasn't on a police force. He was a personal support worker in an Ontario Hospital. And since that attack by a patient he needs a walker. He hasn't worked for going on three years. He's one of hundreds of health care workers in Ontario who say they've experienced violence from sexual assault, punches, to threats from patients. We'll hear more from him and other workers in an hour. But we begin in Texas. I'm Anna Maria Tremonti. This is The Current.
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'We've lost people that we know': Deadly Texas church shooting devastates community
Guest: Nannette Kilbey-Smith
As a state we're dealing with the largest mass shooting in our state's history. The tragedy of course is worsened by the fact that it occurred in a church, a place of worship.
AMT: Texas Governor Greg Abbott. As you've been hearing on the news, twenty six people are dead after a gunman took aim at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland's Springs Texas. The victims range in age from five to 72 years and include the daughter of the church's pastor. The gunman who has been identified in media reports his 26 year old Devin Kelley, formerly with the U.S. Air Force, apparently took his own life after a brief car chase. The community held a candlelight vigil in front of the church last night. Nannette Kilbey-Smith is the editor of the local Wilson County News, and she joins us from just outside Sutherland Springs Texas. Hello.
NANNETTE KILBEY-SMITH: Good morning.
AMT: You were at the vigil last night, Nanette. What was that like?
NANNETTE KILBEY-SMITH: It was a very solemn gathering and very beautiful. It was just an outpouring of love and support and compassion and community members who were gathered not only to support those who were grieving the loss of families, but also trying just to gather together to be there for each other in what was such an unconscionable act.
AMT: And people would have come from all around then, in the county.
NANNETTE KILBEY-SMITH: They did. Yes. They came from across the county and actually outside the county.
AMT: How long have you lived in the area?
NANNETTE KILBEY-SMITH: Almost 20 years.
AMT: You've never seen any kind of violence like this there, I'm guessing?
NANNETTE KILBEY-SMITH: No, this is something so outside of anything we've ever experienced ever.
AMT: And I was listening to someone talking yesterday who said that she had been talking with a friend and they always felt they were in the best place in Texas because everyone knows everyone and so everyone would trust people.
NANNETTE KILBEY-SMITH: We do. In smaller towns you tend to. It's community. So this is just very beyond anyone's experience. Everyone gathered it was it was church on a Sunday morning. This is where you go for comfort for refuge. It's a place of safety.
AMT: And even the pastor's daughter, I understand the pastor was away from the church, but the pastor's daughter was killed in this as well.
NANNETTE KILBEY-SMITH: That is our understanding yes.
AMT: So there's no one who is not touched in that community by what happened yesterday.
NANNETTE KILBEY-SMITH: No. There's not a family that hasn't been touched by this then and not just the Sutherland's Springs community, the nearby communities as well. We're a small rural counties and although we do have a lot of them because of our proximity to the San Antonio metropolitan area there's a lot of people who work in the in the city. By and large there's still a large number of folks who have roots in the community. So we know each other. These are friends and neighbors, people that you know our kids go to school with or we work in worship with.
AMT: And you have to cover this after all that as well.
NANNETTE KILBEY-SMITH: Yes.
AMT: What are you going to say?
NANNETTE KILBEY-SMITH: I am praying for guidance on that. We'll keep things to the facts and present things as compassionately and sympathetically as possible, because again these are people that we know. We've lost people that we know; people that we know are grieving and hurting. So, we do the best that we can to serve them while serving the wider community such as your output as well.
AMT: Well I know you've been up all night and dealing with this since it happened I'm going to let you go. Thank you for speaking with us today.
NANNETTE KILBEY-SMITH: Anna Maria thank you for this opportunity and we do offer our gratitude to everyone who's been praying and keeping the community in their prayers and thoughts that has been very much felt here and is deeply appreciated.
AMT: Well thank you. Bye bye.
NANNETTE KILBEY-SMITH: Goodbye Thank you.
AMT: Nanette Kilbey-Smith editor of the Wilson County News. She was just outside of Sutherland Springs Texas.
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'So many dead': Adrienne Arsenault inside Raqqa's ruins
Guest: Adrienne Arsenault
AMT: You are listening to The Current on CBC Radio One I'm Anna Maria Tremonti.
[Sound: Wind blowing]
AMT: Well that is the sound of the wind and not much else on the road into Raqqa, Syria. As Adrienne Arsenault and the CBC team drove into the city, the once bustling center on the banks of the Euphrates was the scene of an intense battle that saw ISIS claims it as the capital of its so-called caliphate in 2014. For three long years that citizens have been subjected to its brutal regime; as torture and beheadings became the stuff of everyday life. And during the war between ISIS and coalition forces, the citizens of Raqqa were treated as pawns. ISIS fighters were herd people from neighborhood to neighborhood, using them as shields from the coalition airstrikes. Finally last month Raqqa was liberated.
[Sound: Festive Arabic Music]
AMT: And so in Al-Naim Square, the place where ISIS displayed gruesome executions, the music has returned. Al-Naim translates literally to paradise, but Raqqa is far from that, as Adrienne discovered. Adrienne Arsenault is the CBC's senior correspondent she is a co-host of the new national. She has just returned from Raqqa and she's with me in our studio. Hi Adrienne.
ADRIENNE ARSENAULT: Hey there Anna Maria.
AMT: So many questions to ask. First of all of that driving into that city. What was it like?
ADRIENNE ARSENAULT: It was so strange. I mean you can prepare yourself intellectually for what you're going to see. We knew that there isn't a building that's been spared in the fight. But then you know driving in it is astonishing. It is astonishingly quiet. As you sort of drive down the road, you have to think about it in the way a bulldozer will clear up a snowy street and it will push all the snow to the side of the road, sort of the de-mining armored bulldozers have been you know slowly going through the street and pushing all the debris to the side, sometimes losing their tracks in the process because of the mines. But it means that you can really only travel in the tracks of the bulldozers. So it's a pretty narrow route that you can take. And as you drive by you see that the fronts of buildings have been blown off. So you see those details of people's lives. You know a couch or a curtain or towel hanging in a bathroom and then you look down and you realize that there are these big holes punched in the walls between homes, and these are the rat holes that the ISIS fighters would use. So they'd go in one door and then through a series of holes that they'd punched in people's homes. They could travel for kilometers to the city without popping up outside again. It's very - it's very strange and I think that the weirdest thing was when we stopped the car and you stop and you get out you look around. And then the flies come and they're blowflies which you know of are born of the flesh. So blowflies will surround you. And they're so loud and you hear them on your microphone and they're in your face and they're landing on you.
AMT: You were also following a Syrian soldier, a man called Ismail Khaleel. Who is he?
ADRIENNE ARSENAULT: Ismail is an interesting man. Ismail was a pharmacist before ISIS ruined his life and his city. He then became a fighter with the Syrian democratic forces. He didn't get along with ISIS very well. Lots of people just sort of kept their heads down and just tried to survive. Ismail is a bit lippy. They didn't like that. They lashed him some 400 times. At one point, they dragged him behind a car in Raqqa and humiliated him and injured him. I don't know how he survived but he emerged from that with a bloodlust and Ismail tells us of having learned how to snap next by watching Kung Fu movies and applying that skill. He found some of his tormentors and he killed them. He shot some. He snapped the next of others he says. And when we met him, he was looking for his pharmacy but he also was desperate to show us what they had done. I mean he was this man was walking so fast he was practically running behind him because he just wanted us to look.
AMT: He takes you into a place called The Black stadium. What did ISIS do there?
ADRIENNE ARSENAULT: Well that's one of the last places ISIS held. It used it for a number of things. It had enormous tunnels underneath that stretch for some two kilometers connecting the tunnel -connecting the stadium to the national hospital. So it would move fighters through there. It had a lot of human shields. It used it as a prison. We looked at the stands in the stadium and you can see the outlines of people that's where ISIS had its sniper practice. And it tortured people. It tortured people for a long time beneath that stadium.
AMT: We have some tape of you with him down in that basement. Let's listen to it now.
ADRIENNE ARSENAULT: Wow it's dark.
ISMAIL KHALEEL: [In Arabic] They are Daesh’s prisons.
ADRIENNE ARSENAULT: What is this?
ISMAIL KHALEEL: [In Arabic] This is a chamber for torture. Here they would string people up.
ADRIENNE ARSENAULT: Did you find people here?
ISMAIL KHALEEL: [In Arabic] Yes we did free some people. Yes.
ADRIENNE ARSENAULT: Alive, or mostly bodies?
ISMAIL KHALEEL: [In Arabic] Some of them were alive and we also found some dead bodies here.
ADRIENNE ARSENAULT: This room is fully mined.
ISMAIL KHALEEL: [In Arabic] Yes it is mined. No one enters.
ADRIENNE ARSENAULT: And you haven’t cleared the mines out of here yet?
ISMAIL KHALEEL: [In Arabic] We could not open it. Once we open it, it goes off.
ADRIENNE ARSENAULT: Okay.
AMT: Such an understate of a response, Adrienne Arsenault, “Okay”.
ADRIENNE ARSENAULT: [Laughs]
AMT: Standing in a hallway and it is one door that is still shut and behind there, they think if they opened it, it would just blow everything.
ADRIENNE ARSENAULT: Right. It will blow.
AMT: But that's the way it is all over Raqqa?
ADRIENNE ARSENAULT: All over Raqqa. All over that city. There are doors like that. There are unexploded ordinance. Some of it dropped from the coalition airstrikes, 250 kilogram bombs that have not gone off, mortars with their fins still sticking out of the road. It's everywhere and there's too much for the eye to take in and there's too much for them to clear right away. I mean my caution would be if people hear a death toll that of Raqqa, in the next 10 days or so, I would caution not to believe it because it's going to take a long time to figure out how many people have died. And there's going to be discussion about those airstrikes too. It was a ferocious campaign. And yes people are saying thank goodness ISIS has gone from the city, wild force.
AMT: But it came at a price. Yes. You saw a bunch of strollers, at one point.
ADRIENNE ARSENAULT: Oh. So weird. So when everything is destroyed nothing makes sense. And then some things really don't make sense. So we would come across intersections and you'd see strollers. You know one two three four several strollers up right, dusty of course, but looking like they're still functioning. And you think how is this possible? That you know buildings are gone and the strollers are okay. And then your mind goes to: “Oh, no! The kids!” You know, “Oh, no! What happened?” but we started asking around because it was really gnawing at us. And it turns out that in the last days of the ISIS rule, when it was clear that they would have to go, a deal was made to allow the families of the ISIS fighters - and some of the ISIS fighters but mostly the families - to get on buses and be taken away from that city. So where you see the strollers, those are the intersections where the ISIS families would come out of the homes - not their homes the homes they had stolen - and you know pack their children and their belongings into these strollers and wait for their buses. And they got on the buses. But of course they couldn't take the strollers. And so in the city where you see these pockets, that's a marker for the enclaves that ISIS stole from the people of Raqqa.
AMT: And it's a reminder how many children are ISIS babies, right? I mean this is another whole issue. You're going to deal with that on another whole topic this, aren’t we?
ADRIENNE ARSENAULT: We are. Absolutely.
AMT: Yes. Okay. So who's been officially in charge of Raqqa now?
ADRIENNE ARSENAULT: Well you know you ask the soldiers, the Syrian Kurdish soldiers. Who's going to run Raqqa? And they look at you like you're crazy and say: “We died to liberate the city. Of course we will run Raqqa.” And some of the residents are a little more circumspect and say: “Well ISIS is gone but we don't know what's coming.” That's the wise response. Bashar al Assad said this weekend that he still considers Raqqa to be an occupied city and it won't be liberated until his forces are there. There was supposed to be a peace conference - which is such an interesting term for this region - a peace conference planning the future of Raqqa that was canceled and the Syrian Kurds are no longer invited to the next one. So war in Raqqa, war in Syria, is far from done. ISIS is arguably just moved and is morphing. But the violence is still there and it's coming again.
AMT: And you got a lot of people who get a lot of people who were grateful to Donald Trump.
ADRIENNE ARSENAULT: Yes. [Chuckles] You know a couple of times we ran into people who ran restaurants and they named them after Trump. ‘The Trump Falafel Restaurant’ in Kobani. It's in shambles now. But they promised they will redo it because they say he ended ISIS. And we met a man in northern Iraq who has something called the ‘Trump Fish Restaurant’.
AMT: Let's listen to that.
My name is [unintelligible]. I am the manager of Trump Fish in Dahuk, Kurdistan. I have two uncles. They are the owners of this restaurant. The whole story begins before the election when they make a bet who will win. The first one said Hillary Clinton will win. And the other one said Trump. So a day Trump win, the bid was for $2,000. So, my [unintelligible] uncle decided to not take the money, instead of that, changing the name to Trump.
So, this was the whole story.
AMT: So they're grateful to Donald Trump.
ADRIENNE ARSENAULT: They are. But the Kurds are saying they might have to change the name of that restaurant if he doesn't step up for them a bit more.
AMT: Okay, before I let you go. You are new co-host of The National tonight. We will see the ruins of Raqqa tonight, right?
ADRIENNE ARSENAULT: You will, absolutely. You'll see four of us tonight. I promised there wouldn't be four every night, but it's special. We're launching tonight. Yes, we're very excited. You should swing by the studio. It smells good. It looks good. And we're just eager to roll up our sleeves and get down to.
AMT: You talked about a new car smell.
ADRIENNE ARSENAULT: [Chuckles] Yes. It's exactly what that is.
AMT: Okay well yes I'm going to be watching and I'm looking forward to the new National. So thank you Adrienne Arsenault. Thank you for your work in Raqqa.
ADRIENNE ARSENAULT: My pleasure.
AMT: The CBC's Adrienne Arsenault just returned from Raqqa, Syria. Tonight, Adrienne hosts the new National alongside Rosemary Barton, Andrew Chang and Ian Hanomansing. Tune in to see the national and Adrienne full documentary The Ruins of Raqqa tonight, and she'll be having more on Raqqa as the week goes through as well. Stay with us. The CBC News is next and then unpacking the Paradise Papers. I'm joined by CBC's Gillian Findlayy of the Fifth Estate. We'll be talking about that next time. Anna Maria Tremonti. This is The Current.
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Paradise Papers: Massive leak of secret documents reveals global elite's hidden wealth
Guests: Will Fitzgibbon, Gillian Findlay
AMT: Hello I'm Anna Maria Tremonti and you're listening to The Current.
AMT: Still to come, health care workers of the people we turn to when we and our family members are most in need. But a new poll of Ontario health care workers reveals a disturbing truth about their lives on the job; surprising levels of violence, physical, sexual and mental abuse. We will hear some of their stories in half an hour. But first follow the money.
We got elected on a promise to make sure that people were paying their fair share of taxes.
Tax avoidance, tax evasion is something that we take very seriously.
The system we have right now encourages the wealthy to pay less tax. That's not fair. And we're going to fix it.
AMT: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau committing to a crackdown on Canadians who avoid paying their fair share of taxes. But with the revelations yesterday of the Paradise Papers some may be wondering just how serious that commitment is. The Paradise Papers were obtained by the German newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung and shared with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. The trove of 13.4 million records comes from two offshore services firms and 19 different tax havens. Here in Canada, a team of CBC journalists worked with Radio Canada and the Toronto Star for the past six months. In a few moments I'll speak with the Fifth Estate, Gillian Findlay, about her investigation into the Canadian part of the Paradise Papers. But first I'm joined by Will Fitzgibbon and the senior reporter with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. He is in Washington D.C. hello.
WILL FITZGIBBON: Hello.
AMT: Why are they called Paradise Papers?
WILL FITZGIBBON: For two main reasons. One is we wanted to remind people. The Panama papers which now happened about 18 years ago, and which revealed about offshore secrets is a continuing ongoing problem and scandal in many people's eyes. And secondly to remind people that paradises are both palm tree lined sunny beaches that we might think of in the Caribbean, but also tax and fiscal paradises, be it in Canada, be it in the United States, be it in the United Kingdom. Everyone on every continent seems to be it seems somehow involved in this subterranean financial underworld.
AMT: And how many years did these papers span?
WILL FITZGIBBON: We're talking about at least five decades of records, primarily from Appleby a pretty prestigious offshore law firm founded in Bermuda. And then we're talking about corporate records from tax haven registries that also date back years.
AMT: And do we know how the Suddeutsche Zeitung got this?
WILL FITZGIBBON: We don't. All we know is that Suddeutche Zeitung continues to receive these offshore lakes and hundreds of journalists are able to get access through them, through these collaborative journalism networks. And I think the stories in many cases speak for themselves.
AMT: And how does this really differ from the leak of the Panama Papers?
WILL FITZGIBBON: I think what we're seeing in the Paradise Papers is information that's more complex and a lot more sophisticated. We're seeing some of the world's wealthiest people and we're also seeing some of the world's most profitable companies. Companies that produce things that you and I might currently have in our pockets or in our living rooms. The Appleby Law Firm in particular is one with a very very good reputation, and one that therefore is attractive to large corporations to wealthy individuals and of course to politicians across the world who want to manage their tax affairs their private financial wealth.
AMT: And we're going to be speaking to Gillian Finley in just a few moments about the Canadian part of the story. But there were some revelations in other countries of course. Let's start with the U.S. commerce secretary Wilbur Ross. What did you learn?
WILL FITZGIBBON: Secretary Ross, it emerges through a complex web of offshore companies, was involved with one particular firm that basically had a client relationship and made tens of millions of dollars from a Russian energy firm. And that Russian energy firm is at least partly owned by President Putin son in law and two other sanctioned Russian oligarchs. So obviously as journalists and we've seen in the reaction to this even in the few hours the story has been alive, people are now asking what on earth was the U.S. commerce secretary doing having a corporate relationship with Russian entities so close to the Kremlin.
AMT: And he has been talking to the BBC. He says there's nothing whatsoever improper about Navigator - which is the company - having a relationship with Ceber. And he goes on to say: “Where there is evil is the misstatement that I did not disclose those holdings in my original form.” What's he getting at out there?
WILL FITZGIBBON: I think what he's getting at is what the journalists are getting at too, which is that this offshore world is so complex you have to drill down into such detail that the disclosures weren't clear, not only on the public record but to senators to whom journalists working on this project have spoken. And that's why we've now seen Democratic senators say: “Oh my goodness I had no idea. Someone needs to launch a probe into this.”
AMT: Okay, so that's going on in the U.S. The Queen comes up in the leaks. What do the papers say about her?
WILL FITZGIBBON: That's an interesting finding. We find reference to The Queen's private estate, the Duchy of Lancaster, which had invested in an offshore fund in the Cayman Islands. And that fund had then gone to eventually invest in a company in the United Kingdom that has been accused by members of parliament in fact of basically predatory lending tactics, loaning household items to generally disadvantaged Britons and charging what some seem to allege extortionate levels of interest. So we have the Queen of England indirectly investing in this company that's got a pretty controversial track record.
AMT: And has The Queen or Buckingham Palace said anything?
WILL FITZGIBBON: The Duchy of Lancaster, that is the queen's private estate, certainly did respond. Their response interestingly said: “We had no idea that this investment had been made”. It's important to point out obviously that there's no wrongdoing here by the Queen herself and the queen voluntarily pays taxes as she wants to tell us. But once again what we see is a secretive financial system that even those who use it don't know how it functions, let alone the rest of the world, let alone the people over whom she sits.
AMT: So taken as a whole what did these Paradise Papers say about how the very wealthy are using offshore tax havens?
WILL FITZGIBBON: I think what these papers show us is that tax havenry, or the use of tax havens, is far deeper and far more complicated than perhaps any of us ever thought. And what they certainly say is that there now needs to be, in many people's eyes, legislative responses that what we're saying is something that is in the power of governments across the world to legislate and to change. Because we've had so many leaks of this time now. I've read so many hundreds of e-mails where people say: “Hello Dear Lawyer, Hello Dear Accountant, Can you help me reduce my tax bill?” There are enough examples now that I think governments have the power to- and many people are calling on them to make changes.
AMT: All right. So we're talking about public policy and legislative change that some arguably should have started with the release of the Panama papers.
WILL FITZGIBBON: And it did start in many places with the Panama papers. You know we have been inching towards improvements. And many people will tell you that. But as experts who I've spoken to have the policy of say, the rich and the powerful companies of this world have an uncanny ability to always stay one step ahead.
AMT: Okay, well Fitzgibbon. Thanks for your insights today.
WILL FITZGIBBON: Thank you very much.
AMT: Will Fitzgibbon's senior reporter with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. He joined us from Washington D.C. Well as we heard from him, Canada does make an appearance in the Paradise Papers. I am joined by the Fifth Estate's co-host Gillian Findlay. She has been investigating the Canadian connection and it is a connection that touches on the prime minister as well. Gillian Finley joins me in Toronto. Hi Gillian.
GILLIAN FINDLAY: Hi Anna.
AMT: So it goes round Stephen Bronfman. Who is he? And what was his role with the Liberal Party first of all?
GILLIAN FINDLAY: I think Stephen Bronfman is probably the Bronfman most Canadians have never heard about. He's one of the heirs to the family's distilling fortune, the Seagram’s fortune. But he's always kept a very low profile. As a businessman, he's a philanthropist, environmentalist, but he's also a very good friend of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. And 2013 Trudeau tapped him to join the board of the Liberal Party of Canada as a revenue chair. He apparently did a phenomenal job, raised $14 billion in donations the next year. But that's his relationship.
AMT: And he runs an investment company called Claridge Incorporated. Claridge helped set up an offshore trust in the Cayman Islands in the name of Leo Kolber. So explain Mr Kolber connections to the Liberal Party into the Bronfman Family.
GILLIAN FINDLAY: Yes well first of all Leo Kolber is former senator Leo Kolber. For years, he was also the liberals chief fundraiser, bagmen he calls himself. And before Stephen Bronfman, he also headed Claridge Investments. He's been extremely close to the Bronfman family over the years. He jokingly refers to himself as the family's consigliore. He's Stephen Bronfman’s godfather. In 1991, it was while he was sitting as a senator and heading Claridge, his company, helped set up this trust fund in the Cayman Islands - and in case there's anybody listening who doesn't know - there is no tax on money that is earned in those accounts in the Caymans.
AMT: And so whose money was in the trust?
GILLIAN FINDLAY: Well that's the interesting thing because while the trust was in the Kolber name, the documents were revealed in the Panama Paper –the Paradise Papers - show that much of the money came from the Bronfmans. There were millions of dollars in loans over the years from Stephen Bronfman's father, Charles, from Stephen himself, from family trust based in the US, and from numbered company that had an association with Claridge. So it all helped to grow the value of that trust. More than 60 million dollars US.
AMT: Okay, and gain there is no tax on trusts investment.
GILLIAN FINDLAY: Not on trusts in the Cayman Islands.
AMT: Who is going to benefit from all that tax free money then?
GILLIAN FINDLAY: The beneficiaries that were named were Leo Kolber’s two children; Lin, who lived in the United States, and Jonathan, who lived in Israel. Now this meant that they were entitled , allowed to get distributions from the trust. And Jonathan in particular made liberal use of that. Document show that at least 16 million dollars were distributed to him, over the years. Sometimes they are often just tagged simply for general life style expenses.
AMT: And was there any purpose, like other purpose for the corporate trust?
GILLIAN FINDLAY: Yes it was. It's complicated but it becomes clear when you go through the documents. I mentioned that Jonathan was in Israel. And in the early 90s the documents show that the Bronfman family was looking to expand its business into Israel and indeed ended up investing quite heavily there. Jonathan, who had been working for Claridge in Montreal, went to Israel and to head up the family's operations there. And one document in particular in the leak explains that Jonathon's reward - is what the word they used - was going to be 15 percent of every dollar that the Brahman's invested in is in Israel and that would be paid through this trust. In fact it's very clear. They laid out very clearly. They say this is how and why that trust was set up.
AMT: Okay now and again to be clear, it's not illegal for Canadians to set up a trust company in the Cayman Islands.
GILLIAN FINDLAY: No it's not illegal and under the Canadian law at the time, Canadians could contribute to such a trust and they wouldn't have to declare their earnings here either. But they did have to follow rules and this is this is kind of credit. Rule number one, according to the Canada Revenue Agency, was that if you were going to take your money off shore, the management of that money had to happen offshore as well by trustees and not by people who stood to benefit in any way.
AMT: So what did the paper Paradise Papers reveal about where the actual decision making for that trust, the Kolber trust, was taking place?
GILLIAN FINDLAY: Well time and again, they show that decisions were happening in Canada, often by people associated with Claridge, meetings in Montreal, requests for approval and authorization in Canada. There was an investment adviser by the name of Don Chason who comes up a lot and who we were told kept a second set of the trust books in Montreal and that's where he made a lot of the decisions.
AMT: There's some examples that suggest the decision making was taking place in Canada. There is something called One Less Link, what is that?
GILLIAN FINDLAY: Yes. Yes. It is one example that you know, we showed these documents to a bunch of tax experts in Canada. You know we wanted to try to understand make sure that we are clear on what we were reading. And this one they found quite revealing. It has to do that adviser, Don Chason, and an invoice that he sent to the trial for $81000. And a memo comes out that says this is a quote: “that tax advisors for the Bronfman's and the Kolber family suggest that the trust re-allocate the fee. Not call it a fee for services but rather call it a loan repayment to somebody else. And the result then they actually write this down would be one less formal link to entities outside the Caymans.” So this is an indication I think that they knew that links were potentially problematic, if anyone was ever to see this. You know let's not forget this was in the Cayman Islands where secrecy is a big priority. So I'm not sure what the chances were, until this leak. In any event, the experts we consulted found that really quite surprising you know - suspicious is the way one of them put it- saying it looked to him like you know this was clearly an intention to conceal or misrepresent that payment. And you know that was just one red flag that they pointed to. There were examples as well of things that they said appeared to be sham transactions, false invoices. Things that would suggest could suggest fraudulent intent.
AMT: And so the desire to crack down on offshore tax shelters becomes a priority in Parliament around 2007.So this is under the Conservative government of Stephen Harper, where there was a bill moving forward to tackle tax avoidance schemes. What was that concern? What would you know what was going on with for those with Claridge Incorporated and Kolber Trust?
GILLIAN FINDLAY: Well you can see in the documents and e-mails and memos going back and forth that is a concern. But just to back up for a second. You know there have been attempts in Canada going back to 1999 to crack down on those who avoid taxes, particularly those who use offshore trusts, but those efforts always seem to run up against you know vested interest. Canada's 0.1 percent is as Will was intimating earlier you know, they can afford the lawyers and the accountants and the lobbyists it takes you know two to get the kind of tax legislation that they want. But by 2007 after, as you mentioned, the Harper government came to power, it did seem that there was a consensus that was finally happening. And a bill that would have taxed Canadians, who contributed to offshore trust, was passed in the House of Commons.
AMT: It dies in the Senate doesn't it? And there is an election called and it disappears.
GILLIAN FINDLAY: And it disappears. That's right. After a big big lobby by the tax industry that included lawyers from the Bronfman family's longtime legal firm in Montreal.
AMT: So the bill comes back in 2013 and passes again under Harper, right?
GILLIAN FINDLAY: That's right. It comes back in 2013 it passes and it's made retroactive to 2007. So as of that point, it was a it was a slightly watered down bill, but as of that point contributions - Canadians contributing to offshore trusts would be obliged to declare the earnings.
AMT: Okay, but anything in the past would have to be looked down, presumably.
GILLIAN FINDLAY: That's right.
AMT: So what happens to the Kobler Trust?
GILLIAN FINDLAY: Well eventually it was dissolved two years ago. And not so much because of what was happening in Canada at the time, but it was what was happening in Israel. I mean tax reform was happening all over the place. People were finally realizing that governments were finally realizing that this was a problem. And so in Israel they had passed their own law which was basically going to start taxing beneficiaries. Now that was going to potentially ensnare Jonathan Kolber who, remember, was the beneficiary of the Kolber trust, but also is an Israeli citizen. So faced with that reality, the decision was made to wind down the Kolber trust, to move the assets to Israel, and to have Jonathan sort of get on the right side of the new law there by settling with the Israeli tax authorities. Which he did, we are told but in the process, as he may have created a problem for the family here. Because in his settlement with Israel, Jonathan declares that the assets in the Kolber trust originated in Canada. And if that's true, under that new law that was passed, that could make them liable for taxes here. Now we asked lawyers for the Kolbers if anyone had bothered to share that information with the Canadian Revenue Agency and their answer was “No,” not as far as they knew. So this is I think the issue now where the CRA you know will have to decide what it wants to do about this. I mean, they are the only ones who can investigate. They're the only ones who could actually go in and decide whether in fact there are taxes going or not. But potentially we're talking about a $60 billion U.S. trust, potentially. There could be taxes of millions.
AMT: And the fifth estate also contacted the lawyers, not just for the Kolber - John Kolber - but also for Steven Bronfman.
GILLIAN FINDLAY: Well we tried to contact Stephen Bronfman who refuses to answer any of our questions. But lawyers did get back to us and - you know to be clear - the first thing they insisted their clients have done nothing wrong. They've always acted ethically and in compliance with the law. They said in a statement. They also said that, under their interpretation of Canadian law, the trust would never have been liable for taxes here. So there was certainly no tax evasion, they say. They also reject any suggestion of false documentation disguised conduct or fraud.
AMT: And so this is really the Canada Revenue Agency, it's up to it to investigate to see what's there. What then would be most of interest to the CRA about what's going on in these papers?
GILLIAN FINDLAY: Going back to those experts that we consulted, there's half a dozen of them in all, and I think they all sort of agreed on this point, is that the big issue here seems to be what we were talking about earlier, was this really an offshore trust at all? Because if it wasn't, if it was found to have been a Canadian trust that was just being managed and directed out of Canada, then the CIA could decide that the contributions to the trust could be tax going back decades. You know which could add up to an awful lot of money. But again as everybody is very careful to stress that a decision that only the CIA can make at this point.
AMT: You are reporting then that the chief fundraiser for the Liberal Party is tied to a multimillion dollar trust in the Cayman Islands. What the liberal party have to saying when you asked for a comment for a response, particularly in light of Prime Minister Trudeau's push for tax reform?
GILLIAN FINDLAY: Yes that is the message that he never seems too tired of repeating. Well first of all we asked the PMO to comment and they didn't. They referred us to the party. The party in the end did send a short statement in which they simply pointed out that Stephen Bronfman sits on the national board as a volunteer. He assists on issues of fundraising but not on policy decisions.
AMT: Have we heard from the minister responsible for the CRA yet?
GILLIAN FINDLAY: I believe that she has come out and said that they were they will look at this with great interest and they will investigate as a as they feel necessary.
AMT: We've already heard from the opposition. Andrew Scheer released a statement yesterday. I can read some of it here. He says while Justin Trudeau - this is a quote – “While Justin Trudeau spent the summer calling local business operators tax cheats, it was in fact his top left tenants within the Liberal Party of Canada who were avoiding paying taxes here in Canada.” It goes on to say “It is no secret that the prime minister needs money to pay for his out-of-control deficits but instead of cracking down on the tax avoidance schemes used by his wealthy friends, Trudeau is forcing you to pay the bill.” Pierre Poilievre, his reaction as well, he says he's that he's the shadow cabinet minister responsible. It's very curious that Justin Trudeau has done nothing to go after mega-millionaires who stuff their money in foreign tax havens in order to avoid Canadian tax. But yet he's tried to bring higher taxes on farmers, pizza shop owners, and small business owners. So that's where the opposition is, right?
GILLIAN FINDLAY: That's why I think it's been a very interesting question period today.
AMT: Just because again the reporting is not saying that what was done was necessarily illegal, these were things that Canada allowed. But this is happening at a period of time where the Prime Minister is saying there should be fair taxes.
GILLIAN FINDLAY: Yes I think these were things that were allowed under the law at the time I think. But I think the question is you know were those laws followed, in this particular case. I think that that is the red flag certainly the people we were consulting and raising. So they maybe legal but they may have been offside the regulations. That will have to be addressed.
AMT: And that that takes some forensic accounting at the CRA.
GILLIAN FINDLAY: Yes.
AMT: You've been on this for months, Gillian Findlay, how big of paper dump was this that you had to go through?
GILLIAN FINDLAY: Oh I can't remember the figures off the top of my head. I mean I think there were 13 million or something that the entire Paradise Papers are compiled. But I think the portions that related to Canada to this particular trust I think it was somewhere close to 5000. I mean we've had a team on this as you can imagine. We've also been working with journalists at The Toronto Star and at Radio-Canada because they have been you know this is part of the Consortium of the CIJ is. It's been very interesting because it's one of those worlds as well was alluding to. It's complicated, it's confusing, even the experts you know that we were talking to did a lot of head scratching. I mean in some cases you know they all had to sign a non-disclosure clauses with us, because you know we were under strict embargo we couldn't this wasn't to be released till yesterday at 1:00 o'clock. And so it's been an education. I think there may well be more there that we either don't know yet or don't understand. So I think this is a story that it isn't over and you know we'll see what comes out.
AMT: And there are more Canadian names.
GILLIAN FINDLAY: There are other Canadian names as well and there's going to be more reporting on that in the days to come this week. You'll be seeing other stories about other people.
AMT: Okay, Gillian Findlay Thank you.
GILLIAN FINDLAY: Thank you.
AMT: The CBC's Gillian Findlay host of the CBC's Fifth Estate, with me in our Toronto studio.
AMT: If you have thoughts on what you're hearing about the Paradise Papers, let us know. You can tweet us @TheCurrentCBC, find us on Facebook. Go to our website cbc.ca/thecurrent. Our news teams will keep you up to date as the day goes on as we get more response from all side of the House on that story. Stay with us in our next half hour. Frontline health care workers face more violence and abuse more than you may imagine. We'll hear some of their stories. Also asking what can be done to stop it from happening and to help the workers who need the help. I am Anna Maria Tremonti. This is The Current on CBC Radio One, Sirius XM, online on cbc.ca/thecurrent, on podcast and on your radio app.
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'He's going to hurt someone else': Poll finds 68% of health-care workers in Ont. assaulted in past year
Guests: Michael Hurley, Tanya, Scott Sharp
AMT: Hello I'm Anna Maria Tremonti and you're listening to The Current. The numbers are disturbing. A new poll of health care workers in Ontario reveals that two out of three nurses and personal support workers say they have been the victims of physical violence at work, in the past year, everything from punching and kicking to being pinned against the wall or almost thrown through it. Those don't appear to be isolated incidents. 20% of respondents said they'd been the victim of nine or more incidents of physical violence in the past year. Verbal abuse, even sexual assaults and harassment were also widely reported. The poll released today surveyed almost 2000 healthcare workers and was commissioned by the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions, the O C H U. I'll speak to two frontline health workers about their troubling experiences. But first I'm joined by Michael Hurley. He is the president of the O C H U. He's a former personal support worker and he's with me in Toronto. Hello.
MICHAEL HURLEY: Good morning.
AMT: I mentioned a few of those headline statistics from this poll. What else did you hear from health care workers?
MICHAEL HURLEY: Well 68 percent of frontline providers had been physically assaulted, within the last year. And 42 percent reported that they had been sexually harassed or sexually assaulted. And 83 percent had experienced verbal aggression, which of course is also racially directed at sexual language. So hostile, verbal aggressive behavior. We're talking about a culture really, a toxic culture in the hospitals which people experience physically. They experience it emotionally, psychologically and they experience in terms of sexual aggression.
AMT: And who's doing the abuse?
MICHAEL HURLEY: Well primarily patients and their families.
AMT: Why do you think workplace violence and harassment, then, is such a big problem at hospitals and health care facilities?
MICHAEL HURLEY: I think you've got a number of factors coming together here. You've got the fact that this is a female dominated workplace. 85 percent of the workforce is female. And Canadian society has unfortunately a very high tolerance for violence against women and sexual violence against women. So, this this comes into the hospital in terms of attitudes, I think that's a problem. Increased opiate use is a problem. The withdrawal of mental support for the mentally ill in the community is a huge problem. And you've got the impact of austerity in Ontario, after eight years of real budget cuts. People experience waits, delays, deterioration of the quality of service. They're angry about that. They're very anguished about the care that their loved ones are receiving, and they're very expressive about that and physical and verbal ways.
AMT: Okay. Well those may be the reasons but workplace violence and harassment are not tolerated in other workplaces. Why would this go on at this level in health care?
MICHAEL HURLEY: Well in this environment it is tolerated. In fact what people report to us is that they're told this is a part of your job. You should just accept it. And part of the purpose of the polling was to show how extensive it is and to call this environment and to say this just is not acceptable and wouldn't be acceptable in any other environment and shouldn't be acceptable in this environment.
AMT: So do you think it's tolerated by hospital administrators and other hospital staff?
MICHAEL HURLEY: Absolutely. Absolutely it is. In fact we had a nursing conference and the way this whole violence discussion began is we simply asked all the nurses that were there, “How many of you were assaulted physically in the last year?” and everyone put up their hand, 150 people. So we thought we'd explore it. But on an individual level if a worker reports the violence, they might be blamed for it. We've heard that over and over. For example a nurse in North Bay says to a patient with a mental illness “If you take your meds you can go outside and have a smoke” he says “No I want to have my smoke now” she says “please I want you to take your meds, then you can have the smoke”. So he punches her in the face and her supervisor says “You see. What you did wrong was you didn't allow him to do what he wanted”. In other words it's your fault. That's what people experience generally speaking. So we have a climate where people are not actually reporting this or not comfortable or worried about the consequences of it because they think they're going to be blamed for it.
AMT: Well I'd like to bring two other people into this conversation now. Scott Sharp is a personal support worker currently on medical leave after he was assaulted by a patient, at Guelf General Hospital in Guelph, Ontario, almost three years ago. And Tanya is a physiotherapist assistant who works at a Toronto area health care facility. She was sexually assaulted on the job last year. We're not using her last name, in order to protect her identity. Hello to both of you.
SCOTT SHARP: Good morning.
AMT: Scott. Can you tell us what happened to you?
SCOTT SHARP: I was working on January 3rd, 2015 and my main focus is mental health. But because of the lack of security at time and my size being 6” 4 and 250 pounds I was kind of a fill in for that position. So January 3rd I went into work like any other night and I had a patient that was suffering from severe dementia and they also had an ulcer in the bottom of their foot. So they were bedridden at the time. I was watching my patient when I heard a lot of yelling and screaming going on. A patient came in that was very verbally aggressive and also physically. I was waiting for that moment for my name to be called and sure enough it was. But what I did was I took - we have glass doors in front of our rooms in ER. So I close the curtains set the patient's bed up again -He was asleep at the time - set his bed up against the glass doors.
AMT: This is the patient you're already working.
SCOTT SHARP: Yes.
AMT: They you didn't want to leave.
SCOTT SHARP: No that I didn't want to leave. So I put the railing up and also the curtains would be moved if he starts moving so I'd be able to see that. And so I went over to recess. It's across the nurse's station and there was a patient that was quite obviously going to be harm to himself and harm to others. So we proceeded to restrain the individual, which is our last resort. No one wants to be restrained. No one wants to restrain anyone, but in certain circumstances for the safety of the staff and for the safety of the patient we need to do such. And in this case we did. Our group got together and were restraining the individual. He was quite violent. There was one nurse that …
AMT: Was he intoxicated?
SCOTT SHARP: At the time did not know but it was crystal meth.
SCOTT SHARP: As I'm trying to put the magnetic restrain on him, he got loose and he struck me under the jaw, gave me an upper cut. Because my hands are up above, my feet went underneath the gurney, my back at the floor and my head went through a steel rack and into the wall. My first thing on my mind wasn't that I was hurt. It was “My God! He's going to hurt someone else now.” So I grabbed hold of the gurney pulled myself up and my body was in severe pain, all the way through, but I guess with adrenaline and that I was able to get myself up. A co-worker at that time had put himself in between the patient and myself. I noticed across the room, Murphy's law, that the curtains were moving.
AMT: So the one you left behind was now in need.
SCOTT SHARP: Yes. I remember where a [unintelligible]. So I grabbed a cart - supply cart and wheeled myself over to the nurses’ station, hobbled over to the exam where my patient was. And I had severe pain all over my back and I was bleeding from the back of my head. So what I did was I put the railing down and I crawled into bed with him because he was trying to Clark climb over top of the railing. got him calmed down and I couldn't lie there.
AMT: Because you're injured. You said you're bleeding and you did something to your back.
SCOTT SHARP: Yes, but like all of us in health care, you always put the patient first.
AMT: So I'm going to fast forward. Tell me what happened to you? Tell me what your injuries were that night.
SCOTT SHARP: Well that night someone went by and they triaged me right away. And my bodily functions were shutting down. So I couldn't… I was unconscious and I couldn't… Everything was completely out of whack. It gave me a CT, realize that I had spinal damage done to L1, L2, L3 and L4 of my back. And later on I find L5 had some damage too.
AMT: These are the bones in your spine, so , it is a medical language.
SCOTT SHARP: Yes. And I had some damage done to my horsetail. It looks like a horse tail coming out of the bottom of your spine. So anyhow, they rushed me off to Hamilton general where I received spinal surgery there.
AMT: They had to rush you to another hospital and do surgery on you for what happened with a patient.
SCOTT SHARP: Yes. And so then they repatriated me a week later from Hamilton General back to Guelph General. I spent about a month in the hospital there. Then I was sent to a rehab place. Altogether, I spent about three months in the hospital. So now I'm left with chronic pain, neurogenic bladder. I average sleep maybe three to four hours - that's on a good night, on a ton of medication, and it totally turned my family upside down.
AMT: You walked in here today you have. You have a walker.
SCOTT SHARP: Yes.
AMT: Two and a half years later you're still dealing with this.
SCOTT SHARP: I spent about a year in a wheelchair.
AMT: Do you have benefits?
SCOTT SHARP: No because the common thing with hospitals nowadays is they'll have a full time position. And if that person quits, retires they split that make two part time. So therefore I work full time hours because I was working 50-60 hours a week but I get no benefits.
AMT: And so you're married? Do you have kids?
SCOTT SHARP: I married. I have four children.
AMT: What happened when you couldn't work?
SCOTT SHARP: It was… When I got out of St. Joe's I found out that my wife and my children are holding a lot back from me. I had a neuro-pharmacologist and my orthopedic surgeon filling out. They prescribed a Baclofen because I was siezuring at nighttime. The prescription is expensive. So what I did was I submitted WSIB. WSIB declined it and then I found out a lot of other meds that my physician was giving me, they wouldn't cover and my family was having to cash in RSPs and you know.
AMT: Because you're not working and you have no benefits.
SCOTT SHARP: I'm not working and my wife was in the same situation as me. She was classified as part time but work full time but had no benefits.
AMT: Also a health care worker, your wife?
SCOTT SHARP: Yes, also a health care worker. So she would have to take days off to take care of me because I can't pull up my pants and at the time couldn't even bathe myself. So she was also my caregiver. So she would take days off without any pay. So it was a slippery slope. We got behind. And a year later we lost our house. And harder than my spinal injury was looking at my children and you place a lot of blame on yourself. It adds to the depression. It adds to the, you know “why did I let my guard down?” It starts a whole new ball of wax.
AMT: Just hold that thought right there. I want to bring Tanya into this conversation. What's your work like been, your experience in the health care system generally.
TANYA: Overall, I've been in the health care system or work in the healthcare for the past 16 years and I absolutely love it but it is challenging.
AMT: What happened to you Tanya?
TANYA: Well about a year ago I was working on a unit with a physiotherapist and I passed by a patient, which we have assigned patients. This patient was not assigned to me. However this patient who's in the hallway and passed and they said hello. I was assigned to a patient with a physiotherapist and this patient we had to bring out in the hallway to place a brace on his leg, because there was not enough room in the rooms. As I am placing the brace on this gentleman which both my hands have to do. I can't do it with one…
AMT: Sort of bending forward.
TANYA: Bending forward in a couch position. I felt one hand on my hip and the other hand on my hip. And the patient that I saw down the hallway was sexually assaulting me from the back. In which I got up and I said “Stop. That's not appropriate.” And the patient said: “What?” you know and proceeded and I had to tell him to stop. Furthermore the patient in front of me that I was treating, proceeded to comment and said: “Boy, if I were you I would do the same thing.”
AMT: Um… I don't want to get too graphic here, but this man came up behind you with one hand on each hip and he literally pressed him he kept pressing himself against you.
TANYA: Yes a lot more than that. Yes. Yes.
AMT: And nobody told him to stop.
TANYA: No I did.
AMT: Yes. And when did you realize that this was affecting you.
TANYA: The same day I went to a co-worker and mentioned it, and the co-worker said you know “Oh that's just him. Oh poor thing.” They took pity on the actual patient, saying that he was sexually frustrated because of all that's happening in his personal life and he's been here so long. So I went home and I couldn't sleep. I just couldn't sleep. I didn't sleep, not one wink for a good 48 hours and still had to go to work on Monday.
AMT: And this patient was still there.
AMT: This patient never apologized to you?
AMT: So in terms of the people you work for, what did they do for you?
TANYA: So I proceeded to have a conversation on the third day after it happened and I came back to work. And there were about 20 professionals around and I said “this is what happened this happened to me.” They were all in shock. But there was a discussion about you know “if you weren't so young and beautiful this would not have happened to you” and “talk to your manager”. So she did her best to help me but really didn't know what else to do then to say “Are you okay?”
AMT: There was no protocol?
TANYA: There was no protocol.
AMT: Did you use the phrase sexual assault?
AMT: And there was no protocol.
TANYA: There is no protocol. It was actually like a running joke. So finally I did seek help and you know I had to be grateful one of my coworkers saw me in distress after the 7th day and said I know you're not yourself. And she says I help you.
AMT: And what did she do for you?
TANYA: Simple Thing is sit down and help me do the incident report. And after the fact when I did the incident report then things started to happen, but it took so long. That it actually was traumatic every day because I was still seeing this patient, on the same unit, doing my best trying to handle the same caseload and seeing this patient go back and forth like nothing went on, still waving hello to me and nothing was done.
AMT: Were you worried that he would have…
TANYA: Of course of course.
AMT: What steps did the facility finally take?
TANYA: Remove me from the unit. I went to another unit and I sought support, for myself, through the traumatic event.
AMT: But it wasn't fast enough obviously, that they did that.
TANYA: The process wasn't clear.
AMT: And you were removed from the unit. You liked that unit?
TANYA: I love that... I started with that unit when that unit opened, I was the first assistant to say I want to work. I want to work on this unit. I want to work with patients. I want to make sure that I'm making a difference. I want to continue and improve on my skill sets. I want to make sure I'm working and doing something innovative and creative with the patients. It was a new unit I loved it and I worked on that unit for over nine years.
AMT: So did it feel like a bit of a punishment that you had to be moved from the unit?
TANYA: It did.
AMT: Michael, listening to these stories these are really extreme. How common is this kind of thing that we're hearing here today?
MICHAEL HURLEY: It's very common and really like the 68% of people who reported that they had been physically assaulted in the 42% of front line providers, like Tanya, who have been sexually harassed or sexually assaulted. I mean that's an enormous number. And I know from my own personal experience of interviewing hospital staff, about the assaults on them, how damaged people are you know physically but more importantly how psychologically-emotionally traumatized they are by what's happened to them and how much pain they're carrying. Because these are people who come to work, as Scott and Tanya have said, with love and compassion in their hearts and out of the blue someone aggresses against them. And it really disturbs them.
AMT: We're talking about physical abuse and you mentioned verbal abuse being so high. Tanya you're a woman of color.
TANYA: Yes I am.
AMT: To be a black woman working in that in that setting. What else have you faced?
TANYA: I've pretty much faced people just not wanting me to care for them. So you know “You? You're treating me? Oh no you're not. Can you get somebody else?”
AMT: How do you react to that> How would that make you feel?
TANYA: Well it makes me feel rotten because I didn't come in the health care system to be faced with racism.
AMT: And you worked with a lot of them. Right?
TANYA: Yes. And every day. And I'm speaking on behalf of several of the health care workers that are of color, racialized workers, women. We go in there every day and we do our best. So when we're faced with this it does chip away at your willingness to help.
TANYA: So what has to change?
MICHAEL HURLEY: Well first of all we'd like the hospitals to acknowledge the problem. We'd like them to declare that in an environment of violent or aggressive behavior against staff in hospitals is not going to be accepted. We'd like them to post signs to that effect. We'd like them to ask the Ministry of Health to invest in some of the things that might make the workplace safer. For example, six weeks ago when admitting clerk at the [unintelligible] Falls Hospital, was stabbed in the neck with a pair of scissors by a young man who didn't want to be admitted. She had a complete Plexiglas Perrier that mightn't have happened. So there were there were things but they cost money to shield people. We'd like those investments. We have a problem with a culture where the hospitals reprise against people who speak up. We'd like we'd like the laws to be tough and to allow people to report freely and also to speak up about violence freely.
AMT: Well let me ask Tanya. We're not using her last name. What do you think would happen if we use the name of your facility or your last name?
TANYA: Well I just want to make sure. You never know it could be and it is a fear of reprisal. It should be zero tolerance for violence in the hospital culture and protection for all frontline workers.
AMT: Michael Hurley you're talking about accountability that patients and their families need to be held to account. What would you like to see? What would that look like?
MICHAEL HURLEY: Well that would look like, for example the federal government amending the Canadian Criminal Code as a case for transit employees. When you assault the health care worker it's taken more seriously for the purposes of sentencing. Which is not about filling the jails with people who assault health care workers, it’s so we can have a dialogue like this about why it's a bad thing to assault health care workers. We'd like we'd like to see that happen.
AMT: Because that means they'd have to actually get charged. Scott was anyone charged in your injury?
SCOTT SHARP: No because it's one of those things where- especially when it comes to mental health. The police will even say to your face say you know what it's not worth our time, because nothing will stick. So you might as well just drop it right here and there. My case, the gentleman broke one nurse's clavicle. He hurt the other nurse. And then of course mine being a spinal injury and they were told he was hearing voices and it's probably mental health. So, we're not even to bother laying charges. I tried for a month, trying to get the police to do that. I run into him in public. I ran into him, because he's set back out in the street. He spent three weeks in a Homewood. And then was back out in the streets again selling meth and because he went to mental health route. A lot of these individuals know what to say to go that route and abuse the system. So I ran into him in public and he would spit my face and laugh at me.
AMT: He knew who you were.
SCOTT SHARP: Yes. He knew who I was.
AMT: You know Michael this is what you're talking about. You are saying that you have people who can be unstable for various reasons but there's nothing in the health care system right now that used to be there to actually deal with all of that.
MICHAEL HURLEY: A lot of the community supports for people with mental illness have been cut back. So when we see people in a hospital setting, they can be in a very acute stage of their illness and they can be very unhappy to be there. And so I mean further to Scott's point I mean what we would like to see is we would like to see the police charge. We would like to see the crown proceed if the judge thinks a person is mentally fit, perhaps they should go to a mental facility for a while until society can be reassured they're safe but. Or at least let's go through the process. At least let's dignify the work force that we've tried. Right and that somebody has made a decision that well that person just isn't competent to stand trial. Okay fine. But we'd like the process to be there because we'd like to enjoy the same rights around assault as any other person would.
AMT: We're almost out of time. But Michael how would you like to see administrators held to account on these issues?
MICHAEL HURLEY: Well that's a a great question. You know it would be great if they were held legally responsible for what's going down in their environments. I mean the world is abuzz with Weinstein and you know the inappropriateness of sexual harassment and sexual assault. And yet within this environment, almost half of our frontline providers reported it had happened to them. And what's being done about it? Nothing. And what about the physical assaults and the brutalization of people who never work again? Who's going to be held to account for that? Who who's going to who's going to be you know held to ensure that in fact the changes are made to reduce the level of violence? They should be held accountable in my opinion.
SCOTT SHARP: If I may go further. Like when we're talking about Tanya, and myself, I think a lot of times people have a tendency to forget and they only see the first person that gets hurt. That it's their families that are suffering too, that it's like a domino effect if I may use a term. You said you had a child. Her child will be suffering with her. My family, they see the dad isn't the same man that he used to be. I'm not the same husband, or the same dad. I strive to be. But because of my spinal injury I'm not. So I'm trying to be different ways.
AMT: Tanya what do you think?
TANYA: I think we need to have discussions now. It's not going away. We need to discuss the bigger issues.
AMT: And would you also like to see administrators and a union working together to help colleagues know how to help each other?
TANYA: Definitely. We need to be educated and everybody onboard with violence support and Prevention. This needs to be a bigger issue.
AMT: There is a lot to think about the stories you're sharing with us. Thank you. Thank you for telling your story.
TANYA: Thank you.
MICHAEL HURLEY: Thank you for having us.
SCOTT SHARP: Thank you.
AMT: Michael Hurley president of the Ontario Council of hospital Union's, former personal support worker. Scott Sharpe is a personal support worker currently on medical leave. Tanya is a physiotherapist assistant who works in a Toronto area health care facility. We've agreed not to use her full name in order to protect her identity. We did ask Ontario's health minister Eric Hoskins and the labor minister Kevin Flynn for interviews. Neither was available. If you are a health worker who has had a violent or troubling experience at work and you'd like to comment on this, or if you're just listening and you want to comment, email us from our website go to cbc.ca/thecurrent and click on the Contact link. That is our program for today stay with Radio 1 for q. Niall Horan of the band One Direction is on the show with his new solo album. And finally Valerie Pante pulled off one of the great upsets in Montreal civic history yesterday the first woman to be elected mayor of Montreal, beating out the incumbent , Denis Coderre who was until the dying days of the election campaign, the favorite. We are going to leave you with Valerie Plante and her roomful of cheering supporters last night. I'm Anna Maria Tremonti. Thanks for listening to The Current.
[Cheers and applaud]
Finally to the English community- Just lost my earring.
Oh well. [Laughs]
To the English community I say this. My whole life my whole career has been about building bridges and this is what will drive my decision in the future. My team is diverse and represents the various communities that make up Montreal. I believe that our city is stronger when we work together. The Francophone the Anglophone and allophone communities of Montreal have more in common than what many people want us to believe.
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