Coronavirus: Concerns mount over violence in Ontario’s workplaces for front-line workers

New rules and regulations at hospitals and health-care facilities in Ontario are creating new challenges for front-line workers.

Many healthcare providers said they are now used to enforcing the new rules when it comes to wearing masks, physical distancing and hand hygiene. However, front-line workers said they are also dealing with growing tension and in some cases violent acts from patients and visitors.

“The biggest new flashpoint is people not being allowed access to their loved ones when they are in a healthcare institution,” Elyse Sunshine, a health and regulatory lawyer who works with nurses, doctors and other health-care workers, told Global News.

“When people are denied that, it can lead to increased levels of violence because they don’t have any other outlet for their frustration.”

Read more: Ontario mental health hospital pleads guilty to violations of Occupational Health and Safety Act

Story continues below advertisement

Nurses said before the pandemic hit, they were already dealing with high levels of aggression from patients and visitors. They said things have not improved and in some cases it has become worse.

[ Sign up for our Health IQ newsletter for the latest coronavirus updates ]

Donna MacInnis, a registered nurse and the president of the Ontario Nurses Association Windsor Regional Hospital bargaining unit, said her members are constantly having to fight for their safety.

“They are being called names, they are being poked at, they are being yelled at constantly, family members have had to be escorted off because of that verbal abuse,” she said.

Read more: CAMH pleads guilty to workplace safety charge after beating of nurse, fined $80K

In 2019, a survey done for the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario looked at workplace violence. In a 12-month period, 68 per cent of front-line health workers reported being physically assaulted and 86 per cent said they had dealt with verbal violence.

Officials said if violence continues to increase, the concern is that front-line workers might not feel safe or be able to do their jobs effectively.

“Our healthcare providers are one of our most valuable resources in society and we do need to protect them,” Sunshine said.

“We don’t want people refusing to come to work because they don’t feel safe. We need them very much now more so than ever.”

Advertisement

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

View original article here Source