Registed Nurses' Association of Ontario

President of nursing association to commemorate death of Ontario nurse with a symposium on violence in the workplace

President of nursing association to commemorate death of Ontario nurse with a symposium on violence in the workplace


TORONTO – Dec. 3, 2010 – Nurses will use the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women to shine a spotlight on the aggression nurses and other health-care professionals experience in their workplaces and lives.

The event will take place in Windsor on Monday, Dec. 6, and will pay tribute to Lori Dupont, an RN who was murdered by a physician while working at Hotel-Dieu Grace Hospital in the fall of 2005.

“This is a very difficult subject for people to talk about openly but if we do not take every opportunity to deal with this problem head on, many more anniversaries will pass by before we see headway on this issue, says David McNeil, president of the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO), which is organizing the symposium. 

McNeil points to statistics which show that 50 per cent of health-care workers will be physically assaulted during their professional careers, and that nurses are three times more likely to experience violence than any other professional group.

Since Dupont’s death, the Ontario government has brought in legislation (Bill 168 - Occupational Health and Safety Amendment Act) to deal with certain forms of violence. RNAO says the legislation doesn‘t go far enough. McNeil plans to highlight the association’s best practice guideline, Preventing and Managing Violence in the Workplace, which describes violence as a multi-dimensional phenomenon involving the misuse of power and includes all forms of aggression including: harassment, bullying, intimidation, physical threats, assaults, robbery and other intrusive behaviours. “This guideline actually deals with the kind of issues not covered under Bill 168. We know that teasing, gossiping and bullying, if left unchecked, can escalate and ultimately be just as dangerous as physical assaults.

The all-day symposium will be held Monday, Dec. 6, from 8:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. at the Windsor Hilton, 277 Riverside Drive West, Windsor.

“Nurses have a right to a safe working environment that is free of any and all aggression and this symposium will provide them with the information and tools to help stop it in its tracks,” says Karen Ellis-Scharfenberg, Associate Director of RNAO’s Centre for Professional Nursing Excellence.

The Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO) is the professional association representing registered nurses in Ontario. Since 1925, RNAO has lobbied for healthy public policy, promoted excellence in nursing practice, increased nurses’ contribution to shaping the health-care system, and influenced decisions that affect nurses and the public they serve.

For more information about RNAO, visit our website at You can also check out our Facebook page at and follow us on Twitter at


To arrange an interview with David McNeil or Karen Ellis-Scharfenberg, please contact:
Marion Zych
Director of Communications
Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO)
158 Pearl Street
Toronto, ON
416-408-5605 (office)
647-406-5605 (cellular)