Ontario Nurses’ Association Outraged at Plea Bargain by Southlake Regional Health Centre

October 16, 2020

TORONTO, October 16, 2020 – The Ontario Nurses’ Association (ONA) is outraged that almost two years after the critical injuries suffered by a registered nurse (RN) and security guard who were violently attacked at Southlake Regional Health Centre, the hospital has been allowed to plead guilty to only two of the seven charges laid under Occupational Health & Safety Act; five additional charges were dismissed.

“It is difficult to express just how horrifying, disheartening and infuriating this is,” says ONA President Vicki McKenna, RN. “The attack has been life-changing for the RN and security. The fines imposed by Justice Prutschi do not hold Southlake accountable for the violence that occurred. We do not believe this is a deterrent for this employer and this does nothing to compel this employer, or any employer, to protect its employees.”

This morning, Justice Prutschi imposed a total of $80,000 in fines against Southlake for failing to take every precaution reasonable in the circumstance to protect staff, under the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

McKenna says the RN continues to suffer life-changing effects from the attack to this day.

The prevalence of violence in health care is unacceptable, says McKenna. “Decisions like this will have nurses and health-care workers feeling like they are expendable. There has to be a better way to ensure health-care employers in this province obey the laws and ensure their front-line staff have the safe workplaces they need and deserve. We know how to do that, and we know that doing so keeps not only our RNs and health-care professionals safe, it keeps patients safe.”

Southlake continues to see many incidents of violence. While this is the first incident in which Southlake has been charged, this is far from the first incident that resulted in devastating injuries for staff. ONA has had to fight hard to ensure this employer takes the most basic steps to prevent and address workplace safety. “We have no confidence that this employer, or in fact, any employer, will change its practices, and this decision will not encourage the employer to do so,” says McKenna, adding that the recent lay-offs of almost 100 RNs will not help the situation.

“I would encourage Southlake to – at the very least – take these convictions as the impetus to finally take workplace safety more seriously and avoid another incident. The dedicated staff and every patient deserve a safe care environment.”

ONA is the union representing more than 68,000 registered nurses and health-care professionals, as well as 18,000 nursing student affiliates, providing care in hospitals, long-term care facilities, public health, the community, clinics and industry.


For more information:

Sheree Bond (416) 986-8240 (cell) shereeb@ona.org