July 11, 2019

Nurses to Premiers: Violence in Health Care Demands Action

July 11, 2019 (SASKATOON, SK) – A panel of experts on the mounting crisis of violence against health care workers presented to Canada’s provincial and territorial premiers this morning at an event coinciding with the Council of the Federation summit in Saskatoon.

Co-sponsored by Saskatchewan premier Scott Moe, the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions (CFNU) and the Saskatchewan Union of Nurses (SUN), the panel outlined a clear imperative: urgent action is needed to protect health care workers from rampant violence.

“Every day, nurses are physically and verbally assaulted on the job,” said Linda Silas, CFNU President. “Story after story of shocking attacks are reported in the news and to employers, authorities and politicians, yet the crisis is only getting worse. It’s time for Canada’s premiers to work with the federal government to put a stop to this.”

Today’s event comes on the heels of a report released in June by the parliamentary health committee, following its national study on violence against health care workers. The report – the first of its kind at the federal level – contains nine actions the federal government should take, in collaboration with provinces and territories.

The report’s recommendations echo the measures the CFNU called for. These measures include creating a pan-Canadian prevention framework, amending the Criminal Code to hold perpetrators accountable, and providing targeted federal funding for violence prevention. Notably, the committee also called on governments to update Canada’s health human resources strategy to address major staffing shortages across the country.

“As nurses, we refuse to accept being punched, kicked, spat on or sworn at as just ‘part of the job’,” said Silas. “It’s time for federal and provincial governments to end the crisis of violence in health care before any more nurses leave a profession already struggling with serious staffing shortages.”

According to a national survey, 61% of nurses reported a serious problem with violence over a recent 12-month period, and two-thirds considered leaving their jobs as a result.

“The premiers who gathered here today were presented with clear achievable solutions to stop the rampant violence against nurses and health care workers. The time to act is now,” Silas concluded.

Today’s expert panel featured Dr. Kevin Kelloway of St. Mary’s University, Dr. Maura MacPhee of the University of British Columbia, and Clint Hodges, Director of Security at Michael Garron Hospital in Toronto.

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To arrange an interview or for more information, please contact Ben René, CFNU Communications Officer, 613-406-5962, brene@nursesunions.ca