In Ontario more than 550,000 people work at hospitals, long-term
care homes and other health care workplaces. The Ontario government
reports that workplace violence in the health care sector costs the
health care system about $23.8 million annually for hospitals alone
and makes up 10% of the lost-time injuries in hospitals. Although
the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and the Health Care
and Residential Facilities Regulation set out the duties of the
various workplace parties to address workplace violence and
harassment the Ontario government has decided to take further
action to better protect health care workers.
All parties involved have focused on the issue. The Ontario
Nurses' Association (ONA) has been calling for action at
various hospital locations because of the escalation of incidents
reported in hospitals including in the emergency department,
cognitive units and mental health units.
The Ontario Hospital Association has stated that the health and
safety of its workers is a top priority for all hospital leaders,
taking the issue of violence very seriously, and looking at new
approaches to enhance workplace violence prevention in addition to
existing strategies and programs.
Key stakeholders and experts, including patient advocates will
provide advice to the Workplace Violence Prevention in Health Care
Leadership Table that is being established. The focus will be a
three-fold initiative to start. They will first look at how to
prevent violence against nurses in hospitals; then on how to
prevent violence against all hospital workers and thirdly with
preventing violence in the broader health care sector.
From the advice and recommendations the Ontario government is
hoping to develop an implementation plan to (1) make hospitals
safer; (2) reduce incidents of workplace violence in hospitals and
the broader health care sector; and (3) improve the workplace
safety culture with respect to violence.
CCPartners will continue to keep you informed with developments
from the Leadership Table and initiatives from the Ontario
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Unfortunately, reasonable accommodation for employees in the workplace continues to be the source of significant litigation and even today we continue to see outrageous examples of employers behaving badly.
We are now beginning to see reported cases involving charges and subsequent fines laid against employers for failing to provide information, instruction and supervision to protect a worker from workplace violence.
On October 13, 2016, the Supreme Court of Canada denied leave to appeal an Ontario Court of Appeal decision which ordered an employer to pay a former employee 37 months of salary and benefits following termination.
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