October 24, 2016
TORONTO – Ontario Nurses’ Association First Vice-President Vicki McKenna, RN, says she is “beyond angry, frustrated and appalled” at the weekend beating of a registered nurse working to provide care at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) here in Toronto.
Early Sunday morning, the registered nurse (RN) was assaulted as she exited a room, punched in the face and then dragged into a locked utility room, where the male patient repeatedly kicked the nurse in the head.
“Our member might have been killed, but for the fact that another staff person witnessed the attack and called for assistance,” says McKenna. “The RN suffered critical injuries and her sight may be permanently affected. This was yet another very serious event in a long line of workplace violence incidents at CAMH, yet this employer continues to display its laissez-fair attitude to workplace safety and its obligation to protect staff.”
In addition to its failure to keep workers safe, CAMH also failed to notify the Ministry of Labour immediately, as is required under the law. McKenna says there is absolutely no excuse for this oversight, especially with the organization’s history of being charged with workplace safety infractions by the Ministry multiple times.
“CAMH is particularly notorious for its delays in taking action to make this workplace safer,” she said. “CAMH needs to address staffing levels to improve safety and come to the table and participate in actions to improve safety for the staff. We cannot continue to sit back and wait for an RN to be murdered before this employer is forced to take action.”
McKenna suggests that rather than simply fining the institution, the Ministry of Labour should hold senior leaders who are responsible for keeping staff safe at CAMH personally accountable for these incidents. She also notes that the Ministry of Labour has failed to include nurses in its presumption of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder legislation, and this incident illustrates that this oversight is reprehensible.
ONA is the union representing 62,000 registered nurses and allied health professionals, as well as more than 14,000 nursing student affiliates, providing care in hospitals, long-term care facilities, public health, the community, clinics and industry.