SUDBURY, ON – Scott Sharp was working at a Guelph hospital when called to assist nurses who were being attacked in the emergency department by a disturbed patient. Slammed through a wall, Sharp was very badly injured, physically and psychologically, and has spent over two years working to recover and return to work.

New polling, being released on Wednesday (November 22, 2017, 10:00 a.m.) at a media conference at the Greater Sudbury Public Library, Meeting Room 1, 74 MacKenzie Street (Sudbury), shows that assaults on hospital staff, like Mr. Sharp, are happening at “alarming” rates of frequency.

“Whether it is physical, verbal or sexual, Ontario hospital staff face the potential threat of assault with every shift regardless of what type of hospital they work at,” says OCHU president Michael Hurley, who, along with Mr. Sharp, will release the poll findings.

Earlier this fall, the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), through its hospital division, the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU/CUPE), polled 1,976 members (the majority – 1,568 of them women) working in hospitals in seven Ontario communities. The sample included hospital staff working at large urban hospitals, some with forensic psychiatric units, and mid-size hospitals and one rural hospital.

Respondents were asked whether they had experienced different forms of violence and how often – from at least one incident to over nine incidents – in an average year. The poll also probed the prevalence of sexual violence and harassment, and staff perceptions of employer reprisal when workers do report incidents.

A study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that health care workplace violence is an “underreported, ubiquitous and persistent problem that has largely been tolerated and ignored.” Other studies show that staff who provide direct patient care face higher rates of workplace violence than police and corrections officers.

OCHU is asking the province for amendments to the Ontario Occupational Health & Safety Act and the Public Hospitals Act that would better protect hospital staff.


For more information please contact:

Michael Hurley            President OCHU/CUPE         416-884-0770

Stella Yeadon             CUPE Communications         416-559-9300