NORTH BAY, ON — A poll of North Bay Regional Health Centre staff that measures incidents of workplace violence will be released tomorrow, Friday April 1, 10:30 a.m. at 120 Lakeshore Dr., North Bay. The poll is the pilot for a provincial survey the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU)/CUPE plans to conduct with its 30,000 hospital and long-term care members across Ontario.
Government data shows that health care staff are the most likely to experience work-related violence and the incidents are rising.
The poll conducted earlier this week asks how many incidents of physical and non-physical violence staff experienced in the workplace in the last year. Several of the questions focus on how many incidents workers have reported and whether they are afraid of reprisal if they speak up at work about violent incidents. The poll also asked how many times in the last year staff have experienced sexual harassment or assault either non-physical or physical.
“The results of personal experience with violence are very disturbing and suggest a profoundly unsafe environment. But for us the most unexpected and unsettling finding is the measure of sexual harassment or sexual assault. The number of staff afraid of reprisal if they report violence in North Bay is also very concerning, if not unexpected, given the firing of a nurse who raised the issue in January,” says OCHU president Michael Hurley who will be at tomorrow’s poll release.
In January, nurse Sue McIntyre was fired by the North Bay Regional Health Centre after she spoke on a workplace violence panel. In her comments, McIntyre had zeroed in on the issue of reprisal against health care staff who report. Others on the panel stressed that there are less staff to deal with more aggressive patients. Ontario has the lowest hospital and long-term care staffing levels in the country. Delegates attending the conference asked the provincial health minister to take the following actions:
- Enact legislation, to protect health care workers from violence;
- Provide health care 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;
- Fund and staff Ontario hospitals and long-term care facilities to the Canadian average.
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