SUDBURY, ON –  Data show that physical, verbal and sexual assaults against Ontario hospital staff are prevalent and increasing. It is widely understood that workplace violence is under-reported in the health sector.

“Hospitals that are dangerous for staff to work in are also dangerous for patients. The level of physical and sexual assault against hospital staff is abnormally high in Ontario, our internal polling shows, yet the hospital employers refuse to acknowledge violence in a serious way in collective bargaining,” says Michael Hurley the president of the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU).

Currently OCHU is negotiating a new provincial contract on behalf of 27,000 hospital staff represented by the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), including those at Sudbury’s Health Sciences North (HSN) and North Bay Regional Health Centre (NBRHC) and hospitals in Kenora, Fort Frances, Timmins, Geraldton, New Liskeard, Hearst, Nippising and Espanola.

“Our members have signalled strongly that they want themselves and their patients to be safe in Ontario’s hospitals. Talks have broken off until that can happen and a campaign to bring this issue to the public is underway,” says Hurley.

On Wednesday, September 27 at 10:30 a.m., Roger Richer, OCHU Northern Ontario Regional vice-president and Dave Shelefontiuk president of CUPE 1623, representing about 1200 staff at the Sudbury regional hospital, along with Hurley will provide Sudbury media with an update on the contract talks, which began in June. The media briefing will take place at the CUPE 1623 office, 888 Regent St Unit #205.

Negotiations between CUPE and the Ontario Hospital Association (OHA) broke off on September 21 after the hospitals “refused to budge on even the most simple items around workplace violence” specifically:

  • Agreement between the hospitals and the union that a workplace free of violent behaviour is a shared goal;
  • Having all hospitals post signs indicating that violent behaviour would not be tolerated;
  • That the hospitals and the union make a joint request to government for the funding needed to make hospitals safer by investing in flagging systems for violent patients; and staffing up areas where staff work alone and are vulnerable to assault (like psychiatry); improving reporting between police and corrections and other healthcare facilities and the hospitals about violent patients.

“We think that a hospital that refuses to accept violence against patients and staff would be in everyone’s interest, wouldn’t it?” Asks, Hurley.

OCHU/CUPE represents nurses, cleaners and dietary, administrative and trades staff at 120 hospital sites in communities across Ontario.


For more information please contact:

Michael Hurley                        President OCHU                                 416.884.0770

Dave Shelefontiuk                  President CUPE 1623                                    705.929.8457

Stella Yeadon                          CUPE Communications                     416.559.9300