Violence surging during pandemic against hospital nurses, PSWs and other staff who are hit, sexually assaulted, racially attacked, verbally harassed: poll

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OTTAWA, Ontario, July 05, 2022--(BUSINESS WIRE)--A new poll of nearly 550 Ottawa (and eastern Ontario) front-line hospital registered practical nurses (RPNs), personal support workers (PSWs), administrative, cleaning and other staff reveals a pandemic surge in physical violence, sexual assault and racially-motivated attacks against them.

Conducted by the Oracle Polling for the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU) of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) May 17-24, the findings show Ottawa’s hospitals as increasingly toxic and dangerous workplaces, where violence against a workforce who are 85% female is "not only tolerated, but sadly, largely ignored," says Sharon Richer, the secretary-treasurer of CUPE’s Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU/CUPE).

This surge in physical and sexual violence against women and racially motivated attacks comes against a backdrop of severe unprecedented staffing shortages and vacancies in our hospitals.

The local Ottawa hospital administrations, the new health minister and the Premier "cannot look the other way. They cannot be silent. They must act. This is violence against women who are on our health care front-lines," says Richer.

For the first time, since CUPE began surveying its large (90,000 plus) health sector membership about their experiences with workplace violence, participants on this latest poll were asked about violent incidents involving weapons – including, knives, guns, sticks. The survey reveals a jump in the use of weapons like guns and knives against staff.

The portrait of the mental health of the workforce that the poll points to is a significant explanation for the exodus of health care workers and for the large vacancy rates for all occupations in Ontario hospitals.

The alarming findings from CUPE’s provincial poll will be released by Richer along with two Ottawa area RPNs - Dave Verch and Melanie Viau, Wednesday, July 6, 2022, at 11 a.m. at the McNabb Community Centre - Meeting Room C, 180 Percy St.

In addition to the Ottawa hospital staff poll being released Wednesday, CUPE polled more than 2300 front-line hospital sector members across Ontario.

Over the next few weeks, similar polls of Toronto/GTA, Hamilton, Cornwall, Kingston, Brockville, Sudbury and North Bay, front-line hospital staff experiences with violence at their worksites during the pandemic, will be released.


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Stella Yeadon
CUPE Communications

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