A tough lesson learnedFebruary 07, 2011 Written by Jennifer Brown
It was probably only a matter of time, but a guard company providing services to a hospital in Sudbury, Ont., has learned the hard way that you had better make sure your guards’ licences are up-to-date or risk serious damages.An OPP investigation of the Federal Security Agency Corp., contracted by Sudbury Regional Hospital to provide security services has resulted in several charges. On Feb. 1, the OPP’s Anti-Rackets Branch investigated complaints under the Private Security Investigations Services Act. The information the OPP had was that the Federal Security Agency (FedSec), had a guard working without a licence.The OPP conducted a check of the guards at the hospital, and charged one guard with working while unlicensed and one with a uniform violation. Both the employee and the company were issued court summons.Fines of up to $25,000 can be imposed by the courts on unlicensed security guards and fines of up to $250,000 on companies employing unlicensed security guards.Smart guard companies, who don’t want to chance such a negative splash of attention in the media, or worse with their client, keep tabs on the status of their guards’ licences, even issuing memos or reminder messages when the expiration date is coming up. This is something they do with the best interest of all parties involved — company, guard and client. It’s something guard companies were afraid would happen when the province of Ontario gave guards the power to own their own licences. Any company concerned with keeping its reputation and avoiding serious fines and negative press is going to do the same. Who wants an unnecessary scenario like the Sudbury situation? For the sake of an $80 licence renewal the damage done is huge.As a result of the OPP investigations, hospital officials now require that all of guards employed by FedSec show proof of their licensing before working on hospital property. But shouldn’t FedSec provide those assurances to its client upfront? The hospital has now assumed a task to its responsibilities. It know feels it has to double-check what its provider has promised to deliver. As the client I would be thinking that’s one thing I shouldn’t have to worry about with a contract service.It may sound like babysitting, but reputable guard companies monitor the status of their guard’s licences and some send out reminders at the 60- and 30-day points. Some even have it built into their scheduling system that they can't schedule a guard for a shift if the licence expiry date has passed. Unfortunately, there are still some guards out there who clearly fail to realize the licence is not only their bread and butter, but also fail to see that the province’s legislation does in fact of teeth. Even if this proves to be a case of a guard licence being bogged down in paperwork at the registrar’s office, FedSec should have pulled the employee until proper documentation was available, proving they are licenced to work. FedSec was reportedly the lowest bid in the competitive process that took place for Sudbury Regional Hospital last year. As I’m sure many will agree, this hints at what we’ve always known — you get what you pay for and there are customers out there still not willing to consider that when choosing a contract guard company. What's shocking ito me is that a hospital would not ask more questions about what they get for their contract service dollar.