More than anything right now, members of P.E.I.'s Union of Public Sector Employees who work in health care want something done about workplace violence, says the union's president.

"Which is pretty unheard of," said Karen Jackson. "It's usually wages that are the number one, but violence in the workplace was something our members wanted the employer to address. The frequency is certainly increasing."

Jackson said Health PEI is aware of the problem, and that a new program implemented to warn workers about potentially violent patients is a good start.

But Jackson said awareness is one thing, and being able to do something about it is another. She said staffing levels are just not adequate.

"When you're dealing with somebody that has a tendency to be violent and you're going into the room to do an intervention with that patient or resident, it usually requires more staff," she said.

Karen Jackson

UPSE president Karen Jackson says there is a lot more work to be done on the workplace violence problem. (Krystalle Ramlakhan/CBC)

"It's hard sometimes to find these staff on the floor."

Jackson said the increased level of violence is likely connected with changes in the patient population, and more illnesses, such as dementia, that can lead to violent behaviour.

Jackson said there is still a lot more work that needs to be done to solve the problem.

With files from Laura Chapin