SUDBURY, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - Feb. 29, 2016) - 50 health care staff from across greater Sudbury will be among hundreds of hospital and long-term care workers from across Ontario heading to North Bay today, for a rally in support of Sue McIntyre who was fired last month for speaking up about workplace violence.

McIntyre was one of several nurses on a workplace violence panel at a nursing conference in Kingston at the end of January. McIntrye was dismissed by her hospital employer following her participation on the panel where she spoke about the systemic problem of patient violence against health care workers.

Sharon Richer, Ontario Council of Hospital Unions/CUPE (OCHU) northeastern Ontario vice-president, was at the Kingston nursing conference where the consensus among the 150 RPNs attending the Kingston conference was that patient assaults on hospital and long-term care staff are increasing. Richer be in North Bay today for the noon rally in front of the North Bay Regional Health Centre.

"The problem of violent assaults is one of the major health and safety issues facing staff in hospitals, long-term and community care. Some of the staff assaulted are so traumatized that they have never been able to work again. It's time to acknowledge the severity of the problem, stop reprisals against health care staff who report assaults and to talk about increasing staffing levels," says Richer.

According to research, nearly half of health care staff providing direct care in hospitals and nursing homes will be violently assaulted in 2016. Assault on health care staff "happen daily and we think understaffing in hospitals and long-term care is fueling patient and resident assaults," says Richer.

With last week's provincial budget, there was expectation that the provincial government would recognize the deep cuts to hospital funding by injecting significant new investment to increase staffing levels.

"Unfortunately the bit of new money for hospitals in the budget is a cut in real terms, measured against healthcare inflation. Health staff, practical nurses and personal support workers in particular working alone with patients distressed about waits and lack of care, or suffering from mental illness or dementia, will be regrettably subjected to more assaults. That is, unless staffing levels increase," says Richer.

Just prior to McIntyre's termination, several Hamilton hospital nurses have been aggressively attacked by patients. The nurses were seriously injured. In one case nurses were repeatedly punched in the head, with one losing consciousness after being thrown against a wall. Health staff in Cornwall and Kingston have recently also suffered serious injuries from patient attacks. In one, a nurse was beaten unconscious with a lead pipe.

"Sue deserves her job back. Health care workers from across the province, will be in North Bay today to make the point that we will not be intimidated into silence about workplace violence," says Richer.

Contact Information:

Stella Yeadon
CUPE Communications