TORONTO–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Physical violence, sexual assault, racially-motivated attacks against staff are on the rise in Ontario’s hospitals during the COVID pandemic, a new poll of more than 2300 registered practical nurses (RPN), personal support workers, administrative, cleaning, and other front-line staff, has found.
Conducted by the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) May 17-24, the findings reveal hospitals as increasingly toxic and dangerous workplaces, where violence against a workforce who are 85% female is “not only tolerated, but sadly, largely ignored,” says Sharon Richer, the secretary-treasurer of CUPE’s Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU/CUPE).
This surge in physical and sexual violence against women and racially motivated attacks comes against a backdrop of severe unprecedented staffing shortages and vacancies in our hospitals.
The Premier, new health minister and the Ontario Hospital Association “cannot look the other way. They cannot be silent. They must act. This is violence against women who are on our health care front-lines,” says Richer.
For the first time, since CUPE began surveying its large (90,000 plus) health sector membership about their experiences with workplace violence, participants on this latest poll were asked about violent incidents involving weapons – including, knives, guns, sticks. The survey reveals a significant increase in the use of weapons like guns and knives against staff.
The portrait of the mental health of the workforce that the poll points to is a significant explanation for the exodus of health care workers and for the large vacancy rates for all occupations in Ontario hospitals.
The alarming findings from CUPE’s provincial poll will be released by Richer along with Dave Verch, an RPN and first vice-president of OCHU/CUPE, at Queen’s Park (Media Studio), Tuesday July 5, 2022, at 11 a.m.
Over the next few weeks, similar polls of Toronto/GTA, Hamilton, Ottawa/eastern Ontario, Sudbury, North Bay, and northern Ontario front-line hospital staff experiences with violence at their worksites during the pandemic, will be released.