Ontario hospital ‘has not met its clearly defined obligations under the OHSA’
The Ontario Nurses' Association (ONA) is calling on the attorney-general's office and the Ministry of Labour to file charges against the Southlake Regional Health Centre in Newmarket, Ont. for its failure to keep its workers safe, the group said in a press release.
"Since 2013, violent incidents against nurses and other health-care professionals have been repeatedly occurring at Southlake," said Vicki McKenna, ONA president. "Southlake Regional Health Centre has not met its clearly defined obligations under the Occupational Health and Safety Act. The act clearly lays out the responsibilities of employers, and Southlake has not complied with them."
The union cited the incident that took place in Jan. 2019, when a registered nurse was viciously attacked while at work and a security guard was injured.
Following the attack, the union said it tried repeatedly to convince the hospital to install several measures to protect workers and their patients. However, none of the measures have been implemented, and the hospital even failed to report the attack to ONA, to the joint health and safety committee and to the Minister of Labour, the union said, adding that the hospital did not secure the scene as required by law.
"The Ministry of Labour has investigated the incident and this employer. Yet here we are, close to a year later, and the hospital has yet to comply with the act,” says McKenna. “Incidents of violence continue at Southlake, and the ministry has failed to charge the hospital.”
McKenna notes that Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk, in her late-2019 report, was highly critical of the Ministry of Labour for its lax oversight of employers who are "repeat offenders" regarding occupational health and safety hazards. In the report, Lysyk noted that the number of health-care sector injuries has risen by 29 per cent from 2013 to 2019.