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ONTARIO: Nickel Belt MPP introduces bill to ban reprisals against health-care workers who report violence

'Violence should never be part of the job,' says Nickel Belt MPP
Nickel Belt MPP France Gélinas. (File)

SUDBURY - Provincial NDP health critic and Nickel Belt MPP France Gélinas introduced a bill Tuesday that would protect health care workers who blow the whistle on violence in their workplace.

The Speaking Out About Workplace Violence and Workplace Harassment Act would protect nurses, health-care workers and other workers from employer reprisals when they speak out about violence or harassment in their workplace. 

“Unfortunately, in many Ontario hospitals and other health care settings, workplace violence is too often swept under the rug,” Gélinas said, in a press release.

“Nurses and other health care workers are left to feel like they're being told that physical and verbal harassment is just part of the job. Violence should never be part of the job.

“My bill will protect workers from reprisal for speaking out against violence or harassment. No one should head to work worried about being assaulted. Even more so, no one’s career should be negatively affected for raising concerns about their personal safety or dignity.”

Gélinas' bill amends the Occupational Health and Safety Act to prevent any penalty of any kind from being used against an employee for speaking out about violence or harassment. The MPP said that could encourage workers to speak out when violence and harassment happens, instead of staying silent.

The bill was inspired by research published in New Solutions, a journal focused on occupational health and safety, which was done by the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU). 

The published research, "Assaulted and Unheard: Violence Against Healthcare Staff," described the physical, psychological, interpersonal and financial effects of violence in health care institutions, and put forward many prevention strategies. 

Solutions include increased staffing, enhanced security, personal alarms, building design changes, zero tolerance policies, simplified reporting, using the criminal justice system, better training, and flagging concerns when they arise.