Ontario Nurses' Association Says Nurses Still at Risk: CAMH Pleads Guilty in Workplace Violence Cases

    TORONTO, Aug. 13 /CNW/ - The Centre for Addictions and Mental Health
(CAMH) pleaded guilty today in a Toronto courtroom to two charges filed
against it under the Occupational Health and Safety Act. CAMH was fined
$35,000 for each charge, for a total of $70,000.
    Despite the admission of guilt, the Ontario Nurses' Association (ONA)
notes that this employer continues to fail to provide a safe workplace.
    "Despite the seriousness of charges against CAMH, little or nothing has
changed to improve safety for nurses," says ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud,
RN. "CAMH continues to leave worker safety off its list of priorities, and
nurses continue to suffer the consequences."
    Today's plea is related to Ministry of Labour charges from November 2008;
the Ministry charged CAMH with failing to comply with earlier orders to
develop and implement workplace violence policies and procedures. CAMH was
also charged, under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, with failing to
assess a safety hazard and not maintaining equipment.
    In both 2007 and 2008, ONA called media attention to the rising number of
serious, violent workplace attacks at CAMH. Several registered nurses were
critically injured in workplace attacks on November 12 and November 14, 2007
at the Queen Street site, and one of the nurses remains unable to work to this
day. ONA noted that there were 23 incidents of violence at CAMH in a one-month
period in September 2008. In 2009, a nurse was injured in yet another serious
incident and the CAMH has yet to address the safety procedures that failed in
an attempt to prevent another similar incident.
    "The problem at CAMH seems to be inadequate implementation of controls
identified through hazard/risk assessments, testing of safety equipment and
procedures, a lack of training and enforcement of policies and procedures
generally, and an uncaring attitude about the safety of its nurses," alleges
Haslam-Stroud. "I wonder what it will take to persuade management to make
workplace safety a priority."
    By pleading guilty to the charges stemming from the 2007 incident, CAMH
has avoided a trial. Ministry of Labour inspectors continue to investigate
further incidents at the facility.

    ONA is the union representing 54,000 front-line registered nurses and
allied health professionals and 10,000 nursing students providing care in
hospitals, long-term care facilities, public health, the community, clinics
and industry. ONA is celebrating 35 years of nursing advocacy - a proud past,
a powerful future.

For further information:

For further information: Ontario Nurses' Association: Sheree Bond, (416)
964-8833, ext. 2430, cell (416) 986-8240; Ruth Featherstone, (416) 964-8833,
ext. 2269

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