Workplace Violence and Harassment: Ontario Bill 168

A Timeline, by Sandra Muir, Cowan Insurance Group

May, 2010 – On June 15th, Bill 168 amendments to the Ontario Health and Safety Act (OHSA) with respect to workplace violence and harassment will take effect. Statistics Canada estimates that 17% of all violence in Canada, or 356,000 incidents, occur in the workplace in a 12-month period. This bill was created in the aftermath of one of these devastating incidents of workplace violence.

On November 12, 2005, nurse Lori Dupont, 36, arrived for her shift at the Hotel-Dieu Grace Hospital. Ex-boyfriend, Dr. Marc Daniel, a 50-year-old anesthesiologist, was also working that day. Their volatile relationship had ended in early 2005, after which Daniel attempted suicide and was admitted to Hotel-Dieu’s psychiatric ward. This would be their first shift working together since that suicide attempt.

In a report in the Windsor Star, it says that on that day, Dupont began to prepare the receiving bays in the post-anesthetic care unit. To get to the supplies of syringes, suction catheters and other medical items, she had to pass two supporting pillars in the middle of the recovery room.

As she passed the second pillar, Daniel jumped out and began to stab her with a military-style dagger. In just seconds, he stabbed her seven times. Daniel ran off, leaving the weapon sticking out of her body. Dozens of doctors and nurses attempted to save her, but the knife had cut her heart and almost severed her aorta. A few hours later, police found Daniel dead in his car near the Detroit River. He had died of a self-administered drug overdose.

The Inquiry

Following Dupont’s killing, hospital administrators admitted to knowing that Daniel had been stalking Dupont and harassing her, according to the CBC. They were also aware of his suicide attempt.

A coroner’s inquest into Dupont’s murder was held in 2007. Among its 26 recommendations were that the OHSA, which protects workers against health and safety hazards on the job, be expanded to include harassment and abuse as grounds to refuse to work.

The Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario also called on the federal and provincial governments in December 2008 to enact and enforce legislation promoting a violence-free workplace, says a CBC report.

In April 2009, the Ontario government introduced Bill 168, which amends the OHSA to define workplace violence and harassment, and describe employer duties. The bill was passed by the Ontario legislature on December 9, 2009, and will come into effect on June 15, 2010.

This article has been reprinted with permission from the May 2010 Workplace Violence Special Bulletin, and was authored by Sandra Muir, Communications Specialist, Cowan Insurance Group. The Workplace Violence Special Bulletin was co-created by Cowan Insurance Group (www.cowangroup.ca) and Frank Cowan Company (www.frankcowan.com), which are affiliated through common ownership.