Gov’t underplayed worker injury, says head commissionaire


The provincial government minimized injuries a commissionaire suffered in an attack at a downtown social services office, the head of commissionaires in Saskatoon says.

The commissionaire suffered shoulder injuries that will require surgery and has been off work since an April 8 incident in which a social services client charged at the man and toppled him, said Mike Cooper, CEO of the North Saskatchewan division of the Commissionaires.

"Our commissionaire was very badly hurt," Cooper said.

The commissionaire's wife, Karen, said her husband won't return to work until January at the earliest. "This wasn't a minor little incident. This was a verbal and physical attack by an unstable and unhappy client," she said in an email. She did not want her husband's name to be published for fear of retaliation.

The social services ministry is in the midst of signing a contract with two consultants to conduct a crime prevention through environmental design (CPTED) review of the income assistance office in downtown Saskatoon. The review was prompted by what the ministry described as two recent incidents involving violence. A ministry spokesperson said earlier that the commissionaire had returned to work the day after he was attacked.

On Friday, Jeff Redekop, executive director of service delivery with the ministry's income assistance branch, said he only recently learned the commissionaire had injuries that were keeping him from work.

"The staff and myself wish him a very quick recovery," Redekop said. He reiterated that the ministry takes employees' safety seriously – hence the move to bring in consultants to suggest improvements to the office's design.

"While violence shouldn't be a part of our job, these issues do occur," Redekop said.

Cooper said the commissionaires are on contract to provide security at the income assistance office. After the April incident, Cooper said the company insisted two commissionaires be posted at the office, not one – a change the government accepted. The commissionaire had worked at the income assistance office for four years and excelled at defusing situations, his boss says.

"He's a very easygoing, caring type person. He has resolved several incidents in the past that could have gone much worse, just through conversation and calming," Cooper said. In the April incident, the client also swung a chair around, and told the commissionaire he had a gun, Cooper said.

Hady Mohamet, 55, was arrested in connection with the assault. He faces charges of assault causing bodily harm and uttering threats. His next court appearance is scheduled for June 16.

In an unrelated incident, another man is charged with three counts of uttering threats after someone made a bomb threat to the office in May 2013.

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