Thursday, February 16, 2012

Update on Valerie Wolski

Back in July, I blogged about the death of Valerie Wolski. Wolski was a caregiver who was killed by a client last February. It appears the province contracted out the care of the client but failed to provide the contractor with important information about the hazard he posed to caregivers.

In the wake of Wolski’s death, an OHS order issued in this case required provision of information about dangerous clients. Oddly, it applied only to one of six regions in Alberta.

Paula Simons has some new information. While the government is still considering whether to prosecute the case, the Persons with Developmental Disabilities central region board has appealed some aspect of the Occupational Health and Safety findings.

A three-day appeal hearing will run from Feb. 28 to March 1. The appeal process is closed to the public, the proceedings will remain secret and no explanation for the appeal has been forthcoming from the PPD.

While perhaps a legally permissible process (I haven't read the relevant legislation, but the government says this is legit so let's give them the benefit of the doubt), a secret hearing on a fatality case affecting one arm of the government by another arm of the government is hardly confidence inspiring.

Let's give Wolski's husband the final word: “I was not shocked or surprised. Throughout this entire saga, I have felt as though no one is stepping up and being accountable, and that this is just going to be swept under the rug. It’s the province fighting with the province. No one will win, and I am becoming very disillusioned with the political will, but more accurately, with the sense of making this just go away.”

-- Bob Barnetson


  1. Thanks for your post. I appreciate your perspective on this, and will be eager to see what you think of the results of the appeal hearing.

    Your readers who are interested in learning more about Valerie Wolski's case may want to visit

  2. One would assume in the interest of clarity and to avoid the appearance of indifference that the government would be open minded about the fatality inquiry. No one can learn anything from this incident if the government closes its doors to public view, least of all contractors. What is more amazing is that in light of Woloski's workplace death the OHS order is limited to one region in Alberta. How can this limited OHS order possibly protect contract workers in similar situations across the province? We should be very wary about what information the government puts out. Past OHS history as shown us that often governments work to benefit employers economic interests rather than those doing the actual work. Wake Up Alberta!!

  3. I worked in a grouphome and had to leave my job because adequate protection for staff was simply not there. After this story came out I was hoping for a change that just doesn't seem to want to happen. If things don't change it will make it more difficult to retain staff and all clients will be unfairly stereotyped by the actions of a few. It's not hard to imagine how that can become a downward spiral leading to the abuse of staff and clients alike.