Ontario Nurses' Association Says CAMH Guilty Plea a Start, But Workplace Violence Continues

TORONTO, July 18, 2016 /CNW/ - The Ontario Nurses' Association (ONA) says that the guilty plea to one of four charges against the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) to Ministry of Labour charges of failing to keep workers safe is a start, but that workplace violence continues.

"Any acknowledgement of culpability by this employer is progress for ONA and our 62,000 registered nurses and allied health professionals," says ONA First Vice-President Vicki McKenna, RN. "As nurses on the front lines of health care, we are seriously concerned about the lack of sufficient security and other safety measures for those providing patient care at CAMH, where multiple assaults occur. I'm pleased that this employer has admitted it failed in its responsibilities, but this is the third time that CAMH has been found guilty of occupational health and safety violations."

The charges against CAMH stem from a January 2014 incident in which a nurse was severely beaten by a patient and a second nurse came to her assistance. The Ministry of Labour charged CAMH with four infractions of the Occupational Health and Safety Act for failing to protect workers. McKenna notes that while ONA appreciates that the Ministry of Labour invested substantial work in this case, senior leadership has not been held responsible for repeated incidents in this workplace. "Three of four charges were dropped, and we know that CAMH has pleaded guilty and been fined twice before," she says. "But corporate charges and financial penalties have not been adequate to change the lack of action on the part of CAMH to prevent violence. There are frequent incidents of attacks on nurses and staff and other patients at CAMH. This employer continues to be reactive, and ONA fears that one day we will have a fatal incident."

In addition, it is McKenna's understanding that CAMH has just seen a $1-million gift for its Well @ Work program withdrawn, reportedly due to the institute's inability to show that the first installment of the funds was used for its intended purpose. "In my understanding, the FAAS Foundation generously donated the funds with the understanding that CAMH would create psychologically healthy, safe and fair workplaces," she says. "However, CAMH failed to provide demonstrable accountability for the use of the funds, and the FAAS Foundation noted that it – for the first time in 11 years – says it has lost confidence in the grantee."

McKenna adds that "we simply will not tolerate workplace violence in health care, and will continue to hold all health-care employers and the Ministry of Labour accountable until workplace violence is treated with the seriousness it should be and no other nurse is subjected to assault. As Justice Archie Campbell noted, if workers are not protected from health and safety hazards, patients and the public are not protected either."

ONA is the union representing 62,000 front-line registered nurses and allied health professionals as well as more than 14,000 nursing student affiliates providing care in Ontario hospitals, long-term care facilities, public health, the community, industry and clinics.

Visit us at: www.ona.org; www.Facebook.com/OntarioNurses; www.Twitter.com/OntarioNurses

SOURCE Ontario Nurses' Association

For further information: Ontario Nurses' Association, Sheree Bond, (416) 964-8833, ext. 2430, (cell): (416) 986-8240, shereeb@ona.org; Melanie Levenson, (416) 964-8833, ext. 2369, melaniel@ona.org


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