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May 14, 2019

Canada’s nurses tell Parliament they’ve had enough of violence on the job

Media Release
“Nurses in Canada have had enough of being kicked, punched, stabbed, scratched, spat on, etc. on a daily basis while they care for and heal patients.”

May 14, 2019 (OTTAWA, ON) – Facing a rising tide of workplace violence across the country, nurses have been demanding action from Ottawa for almost 18 months. Today the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health heard this message and commenced the first-ever parliamentary study on workplace violence in health care.

“Nurses in Canada have had enough of being kicked, punched, stabbed, scratched, spat on, etc. on a daily basis while they care for and heal patients,” said Linda Silas, President of the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions (CFNU). “As we saw in a horrifying incident in Moncton last March, sometimes the assaults are so serious that the nurse victim may never fully recover.”

Representing nearly 200,000 nurses and nursing students from across Canada, Silas testified today before health committee members on the first day of hearings into workplace violence in health care.

“I think any Canadian would find it shocking to hear that nurses face a workplace violence crisis that is worsening at a faster rate than for police and correctional officers,” said Silas. “And yet that’s the reality that nurses face every day.”

National data shows that the number of violence-related lost-time injuries for frontline health care workers increased by close to 66% between 2006 and 2015 – three times the rate of increase for police and correctional service officers combined.

“But, we didn’t come here today just to speak about doom and gloom,” said Silas. “We came to talk to MPs about the very achievable solutions that the federal government can work towards to make health care settings safe for both staff and patients.”

At committee, the CFNU recommended a number of measures that the federal government could undertake to address the crisis of violence in health care. Among them, Silas asked MPs to consider:

  • A comprehensive federal study into health human resources planning;
  • Targeted federal funding to enhance protections for health care workers through violence-prevention infrastructure and programs, with community police included as an essential partner with Joint Health and Safety Committees;
  • The federal government to apply best practices around violence prevention in federally regulated health care settings – to lead by example;
  • National minimum security training standards for health care environments to be legislated;
  • Support from this committee for Bill C-434, as well as promoting the use of Westray Bill among Crown prosecutors in cases involving health care workers;
  • And federal funding toward CIHI’s collecting and reporting on facility-level workplace violence-related data.

“Canada’s nurses can be proud today that our efforts to bring this crisis to the attention of Canada’s politicians worked – Parliament is now listening to us,” said Silas. “It’s time for the federal government to take bold action by implementing meaningful solutions to this crisis.”


The CFNU is Canada’s largest nurses’ organization, representing nearly 200,000 nurses and student nurses, and advocating on key health priorities and federal engagement in the future of public health care.

For more information, please contact:
Ben René, CFNU Communications Officer, 613-406-5962,