NORTH BAY, ON — Hundreds of hospital and long-term care staff from across Ontario are heading to North Bay today, for a rally in support of Sue McIntyre, who was fired last month for speaking up about workplace violence.
McIntyre was one of several nurses who spoke about the systemic problem of violent assaults on health care staff at a nursing conference at the end of January. The North Bay Regional Health Centre fired her after the conference.
“The senior management of the North Bay Regional Health Centre must be accountable for their repression of discussion of the problem of violence at their facility and for creating a climate of fear and intimidation. Firing Sue McIntyre was an abuse of power and an attack on free speech in a democratic society. The problem of violent assaults is one of the major health and safety issues facing staff in hospitals, long-term and community care. Hundreds of health care staff will stand today in absolute solidarity with Sue McIntyre and against the culture that says we must accept being hit and beaten as part of our jobs, ” says Michael Hurley president of the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU).
Front line nurses and personal support workers with direct experience of violence at work will speak, along with Hurley and Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Ontario president Fred Hahn at today’s noon rally in front of the North Bay Regional Health Centre.
According to research, nearly half of health care staff providing direct care in hospitals and nursing homes will be violently assaulted in 2016. Ontario spends $353 less per citizen on acute hospital care than any other province and 9 years of provincial Liberal budget cuts have left Ontario hospitals and long-term care facilities with the lowest levels of staff of any province in Canada.
Just prior to McIntyre’s termination, several nurses at Hamilton hospitals were attacked by patients and seriously injured. In one case nurses were repeatedly punched in the head, with one losing consciousness after being thrown against a wall. Health staff in Cornwall and Kingston also suffered serious injuries from patient attacks. In one case a nurse was beaten unconscious with a lead pipe.
“We hope that there will be widespread support for a call for adequate staffing and for legislation to provide meaningful protections for health care workers from violence and to prevent employers like the North Bay Regional Health Centre from firing staff who are brave enough to speak about the systemic problem of assaults on staff,” says Hurley.
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