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OFL President to join nurses in rally at Newmarket hospital on Monday

Federation will call for criminal charges against Southlake management

NEWMARKET, Ontario, Oct. 25, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Patty Coates, president of the Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL), will join members of the Ontario Nurses’ Association (ONA) and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Healthcare local in front of Southlake Regional Health Centre on Monday afternoon as the outcry for preventative and punitive action grows following the violent injury of two nurses at this workplace in less than a week.

What:   Health-Care Workers’ Rally Against Violence
When:   Monday, October 26, 3:30 p.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Where:   Southlake Regional Health Centre, 596 Davis Dr., Newmarket, ON
Who:   Frontline health-care workers and OFL president Patty Coates


“This employer keeps failing to fulfill its responsibility under the law to make the workplace safe for its workers. There is no justification for this, period. The managers, CEO, and board of directors have known about the problems, allowing violence to occur for more than half a decade, yet they still aren’t taking every reasonable precaution to protect their employees. They don’t deserve any more leniency.”
—Patty Coates, OFL President

“York Regional Police must conduct a full investigation of the board of directors, CEO, and mangers of Southlake under Section 217.1 of the Criminal Code of Canada. It’s the law.”
—Patty Coates, OFL President

“Premier Ford doesn’t miss an opportunity to call nurses ‘heroes.’ So I’m calling on Ontario Solicitor General Sylvia Jones to ensure that the local police service has the adequate training and resources to do this criminal investigation of Southlake management or to appoint the Ontario Provincial Police to investigate and make sure these heroes finally get justice.”
—Patty Coates, OFL President

Quick Facts:

The management of this hospital has failed to adequately protect frontline health-care workers from violence for more than half a decade. In 2013, a registered nurse was beaten beyond recognition. Nurses at Southlake are suffering life-altering injuries and it is disproportionately women that bear the negative physical, psychological, and economic consequences.

Just over a week ago, on October 16, 2020, Southlake pleaded guilty to two charges under the provincial Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) for failing to prevent a violent attack on a registered nurse and security guard. This was a lenient plea deal because Southlake was charged with nine counts under the OHSA in January. Nurses have decried the deal as a “slap on the wrist” insufficient to motivate this employer to stop re-offending.

Frontline health-care workers are demanding immediate action by the employer and government.

Since March 31, 2004, Section 217.1 of the Criminal Code of Canada has made it a legal duty that all persons directing work, or having the authority to direct work, must take reasonable steps to prevent bodily harm arising from work – including violence:

“217.1 Everyone who undertakes, or has the authority, to direct how another person does work or performs a task is under a legal duty to take reasonable steps to prevent bodily harm to that person, or any other person, arising from that work or task.”
—source: Department of Justice, Canada

The amendment also added Sections 22.1 and 22.2 to the Criminal Code imposing criminal liability on organizations and its representatives for negligence (22.1) and other offences (22.2).
—source: Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS)

There is currently no Crown Attorney for York Region; according to the provincial government’s Employee and Organization Directory (INFO-GO), this position is vacant. The Crown Attorney would ultimately make the decision on whether to bring charges under the Criminal Code.

The Ontario Federation of Labour represents 54 unions and one million workers in Ontario. For information, visit and follow @OFLabour on Facebook and Twitter.

For more information, please contact:
Rob Halpin
Executive Director
Ontario Federation of Labour l 416-707-9014


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