Toronto, ON — 150 health care staff from across greater Toronto will be among hundreds of hospital and long-term care workers from across Ontario 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 violence in the workplace on a panel at a nursing conference in Kingston at the end of January. McIntyre was dismissed by her hospital employer following her participation on the panel where she spoke about the systemic problem of patient violence against health care workers.
“The problem of violent assaults is one of the major health and safety issues facing staff in hospitals, long-term and community care. Some of the staff assaulted are so traumatized that they have never been able to work again. It’s time to acknowledge the severity of the problem, stop reprisals against health care staff who report assaults and to talk about action,” says Michael Hurley president of the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU).
Hurley along with Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Ontario president Fred Hahn and Hamilton registered practical nurse (RPN) Linda Clayborne, will be among those speaking at the noon rally in front of the North Bay Regional Health Centre today.
The consensus among the 150 RPNs attending the Kingston conference is that patient assaults on hospital and long-term care staff are increasing. According to research, nearly half of health care staff providing direct care in hospitals and nursing homes will be violently assaulted in 2016.
Data shows that Ontario patients get 6.1 less hours of nursing care than the Canadian average. Ontario spends $353 less per citizen on acute hospital care than any other province.
Just prior to McIntyre’s termination, several Hamilton hospital nurses have been aggressively attacked by patients. The nurses were seriously injured. In one case nurses were repeatedly punched in the head, with one losing consciousness after being thrown against a wall.
The Hamilton nurse attacks are not unique. Recently, nurses in Cornwall and Kingston suffered serious injuries from patient attacks. In one, a nurse was beaten unconscious with a lead pipe.
“Sue is brave. She deserves her job back,” says Hurley. “North Bay Regional Health Centre wants to put a lid on discussion about violence against its staff. We think the opposite is needed. 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 for those brave enough to talk about the problem.”
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