Registed Nurses' Association of Ontario

RNAO calls for an end to violence against nurses in the workplace

RNAO calls for an end to violence against nurses in the workplace

TORONTO, Dec. 6, 2006 – On a day designated to commemorate 14 women killed in an event that has come to be known as the Montreal Massacre, an Ontario nursing organization is calling on employers and governments to better protect nurses from violence in the workplace.

 The Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO) wants health-care organizations to implement polices, procedures and practices that promote the safety of nurses. RNAO says governments also have a responsibility to fund health-care organizations so they have the resources to take action. RNAO’s recommendations are outlined in a policy statement entitled Violence Against Nurses in the Workplace: A Zero Tolerance Approach released this morning.

 “Even though many people agree violence against women is unacceptable, the sad reality is that nurses tell us this is still a major problem. Indeed, we know that 50 per cent of health-care workers will be physically assaulted during their professional careers,” says RNAO president Mary Ferguson-Paré.

 “That’s why we’re speaking out today. We know that the role of a nurse carries risks, but it’s not part of anyone’s job to endure physical harm or harassment. We want a zero tolerance approach to violence,” adds Ferguson-Paré.

Nurses working in all sectors of the health-care system are at risk for violence. According to the International Council of Nurses, nurses are three times more likely to experience violence than any other professional group. Some examples of violence include:  physical assault; intimidating behaviour; threatening remarks or gestures; and sexual harassment.

Doris Grinspun, RNAO’s executive director, says RNAO wants all health-care organizations to develop and adopt a set of policies that guide employees and their supervisors through a set of steps if they experience violence on the job.

Grinspun says health-care organizations should be particularly concerned about violence against nurses after last year’s death of RN Lori Dupont, one of the most extreme example of violence committed against a nurse on the job. “You can’t make sense of that kind of brutality. But you can try to ensure it never happens again by committing to an action plan that aims to prevent, identify and deal with instances of abuse and violence in the workplace,” Grinspun says.

The Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO) is the professional association representing registered nurses wherever they practise 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, please contact:
Marion Zych, Director of Communications, RNAO
Phone: 416-408-5605
Toll free: 1-800-268-7199 ext.209
Cell: 647-406-5605