Ontario Nurses’ Association Says Workplace Violence Will Increase as Royal Ottawa, Brockville Mental Health Cut Registered Nurses

December 6, 2016

OTTAWA – The President of the Ontario Nurses’ Association (ONA) is shocked at cuts to Registered Nurses (RNs) at the Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre and Brockville Mental Health, saying that workplace violence will increase in the wake of the cuts.

“The very units on which RNs have been critically injured in assaults are now going to have fewer RNs working on them,” notes Linda Haslam-Stroud, RN. “It’s simply outrageous. Royal Ottawa is cutting two full-time and five part-time RN positions on its Forensic Rehabilitation Unit; Brockville is cutting seven full-time and two part-time RN positions in its Forensic Treatment Unit. This is a loss of more than 25,000 hours a year of high-quality RN care for mental health patients and will lead to greater risk of violence for both the remaining RNs and our patients.”

The news is particularly galling as ONA has been calling for increased RN staffing as one tool in the battle against workplace violence. The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre is part of the Royal Ottawa Health Care Group which, earlier this year, saw Ministry of Labour charges against it for failing to keep staff safe dismissed. The Ministry of Labour is appealing the decision.

The Ministry of Labour has also charged Royal Ottawa Health Group with five infractions under the Occupational Health and Safety Act in another incident in which a registered nurse was stabbed in the throat by a patient at the Royal Ottawa Health Care Group's Brockville site.

“Our vulnerable patients deserve the best quality care possible,” said Haslam-Stroud. “Cutting RN positions has been shown in study after study to result in patients suffering more complications. RN care is vital to these patients, who are unstable and unpredictable and require the care of an RN.”

Ontario hospitals have cut more than 1,600 RN positions in the past 23 months.

“Ontarians have to get loud about the need for more RNs in their hospitals now,” says Haslam-Stroud. “We are putting the health and safety of our RNs and our patients at risk. Speak up now or lose quality health care you need.”

ONA is the union representing 62,000 registered nurses and allied health professionals, as well as almost 16,000 nursing student affiliates, providing care in hospitals, long-term care facilities, public health, the community, clinics and industry.

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For more 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