TORONTO, ON  A nurse who spoke on a panel about patient violence against nurses has been terminated by the North Bay Regional Hospital.

The Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU)/CUPE is calling on the provincial government to pressure the North Bay Regional Hospital to reinstate the nurse and to adopt legislation that would make it a criminal offense to assault a health care worker and protect staff who report violent incidents from reprisal.

The North Bay hospital, “is bullying this nurse with the severest form of reprisal for telling the truth about patient violence. This autocratic management knows these assaults are going on, has done very little about them and doesn’t want people to talk about them. The hospital CEO must be held accountable for this decision to spend tens of thousands of scarce health care dollars on lawyers to try to uphold this indefensible firing,” says OCHU north- eastern Ontario vice-president Sharon Richer.

OCHU will hold a media conference tomorrow, Wednesday, February 3, 2016 at 10 a.m. at 120 Lakeshore Drive to outline the legal and political remedies being pursued in this case.

“The CEO of the North Bay hospital cannot repress discussion about the prevalence of violence. Health care staff must be able to speak up about the widespread extent of this problem and its devastating impact. We look to the Ontario government to act immediately to protect nurses, by investing in increased hospital and long-term care staffing and by introducing proactive legislation, as New York and California have done. At the end of the day, the understaffing of Ontario’s health care facilities, which have the fewest staff in Canada, leaves health care workers vulnerable to these assaults,” says OCHU president Michael Hurley.

Canadian Institute for Health care Information data suggests that 47 per cent of registered practical nurses (RPNs) are assaulted by a patient or a patient’s family member each year.

OCHU is asking the Ontario government to:

  • Increase staffing for Ontario hospitals and long-term care facilities at least to the Canadian average;
  • Enact legislation to protect health care workers from violence;
  • Provide health care staff with the same rights to refuse unsafe work as other workers in the public sector;
  • Charge patients and family members who are violent with staff under the criminal code;
  • Lay charges against the administrators who are complicit in creating a working environment where violence against staff can take place;
  • Provide adequate compensation for health and psychological services for workers who are the victims of violence;
  • Improve security in our hospitals and long-term care facilities, including providing alarms and other protections.