Slave Wages Paid To Working Psychiatric Patients

Publisher:  "Toronto Clarion," 73 Bathurst Street, Toronto, Ontario M5V 2P6
Year Published:  1981  
Pages:  24pp  
Resource Type:  Article
Cx Number:  CX2366

This article claims that the mentally ill are working for as little as fifty cents an hour in sheltered workshops, provincial psychiatric hospitals and some private businesses in the Toronto area.

Abstract:  This article claims that the mentally ill are working for as little as fifty cents an hour in sheltered workshops, provincial psychiatric hospitals and some private businesses in the Toronto area. The Clarion states that the Ministry of Health justifies such wages by claiming that the work is a form of therapy, not employment. But some former workshop employees and community workers dispute the therapeutic value of such work; they claim that such work is very boring and non-creative. Businesses, on the other hand, which use the sheltered workshops and hospital workshops, find that psychiatric patients and handicapped people "do an excellent job."

A community health worker interviewed in the article says that these workshops "prepare and socialize people for low-paying, unskilled, dead-end jobs." The practice of underpaying those labelled mentally ill spills over into the community as well. Psychiatric patients remain marginal to the workforce even after leaving the hospital. Their need for money and lack of skills leave them vulnerable to exploitation by employers. A member of "On Our Own," a psychiatric self-help group, concludes that "Vulnerable people are being exploited in the name of rehabilitation."

An accompanying article is entitled, "Ex-Worker sues Sally Ann." A woman who worked in a Salvation Army Sheltered Workshop for 50 cents an hour is suing the Salvation Army for back pay up to the minimum wage. One witness at the trial claims that all handicapped persons should be covered by minimum wage legislation. A decision on the case is expected late in 1981. If the complaint is successful, a precedent may be set enabling all disabled workshop employees to claim back pay.


$12/yr.

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