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June 20, 2019

Parliament moves to end violence in health care sector

Media Release


Nurses praise parliamentary report on violence in health care

June 20, 2019 (OTTAWA, ON) – Canada’s nurses are eager for meaningful action following the first parliamentary study into violence against health care workers. A report by the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health, released yesterday afternoon, makes a number of recommendations championed by the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions (CFNU).

“Nurses are delighted that our urgent call to address the epidemic of violence in health care has been heeded in the health committee’s report,” said Linda Silas, president of the CFNU. “It’s high time that our federal government helped ensure health care workers can do their jobs without being subjected to staggering rates of physical and verbal abuse.”

Silas’ testimony before the committee helped inform the report, including recommendations for targeted federal funding for violence-prevention infrastructure within the public sector, support for amending the Criminal Code to hold perpetrators accountable, and federal research funding to better track violent incidents. The CFNU began calling for this federal study in January 2018.

Committee members also heard from a variety of other expert witnesses, who all echoed the critical need for federal leadership to tackle the crisis of violence in health care.

In Canada, the number of violence-related lost-time injuries among frontline health care workers increased by close to 66% between 2006 and 2015 – three times the rate of increase among police and correctional service officers combined.

Given these staggering numbers, Silas expects legislators across the political spectrum to treat this as a top health care priority.

“We are calling on each party to heed the recommendations of the report and to announce the concrete actions they will take on this issue if voted into power by Canadians in the next federal election,” declared Silas. “Canada’s nurses are committed to working with governments and employers to implement these much-needed measures to protect health care workers across the country.”

The committee’s full report can be accessed here.

Quotes from standing committee members:

“During my time in the emergency department, I was assaulted on several occasions and many of my colleagues regularly faced much worse. Sadly, this was often considered part of the job. It’s time for this to change. I am glad the committee adopted my motion to study this important issue because now we have a road map that can make health care environments safe for both patients and health care workers.”

Doug Eyolfson
Liberal MP for Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia—Headingley (Manitoba)

“Violence against health care workers is a serious problem which is causing many to leave the profession at a time where we need even more workers as our population ages. The recommendations in the report are actions that the federal government can take to address the issue, and the Official Opposition supports them.”

Marilyn Gladu
Conservative MP for Sarnia—Lambton (Ontario)

“Violence against health care workers has become a pervasive problem within the Canadian health care system. They deal every day with trauma and the public, and the number and intensity of attacks are growing at an alarming rate. This report sends a strong message that those who provide such critical services must be treated with respect and security. I’m particularly pleased that the health committee has endorsed my bill to amend the Criminal Code to require a court to consider an assault on a health care sector worker to be an aggravating circumstance for the purposes of sentencing.”

Don Davies
NDP MP for Vancouver Kingsway (B.C.)



Lauren Snowball
Communications Officer, Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions

Matthew Cavett-Goodwin
Legislative Assistant for MP Doug Eyolfson

Benjamin Martin
Director of Operations for MP Marilyn Gladu

The Office of Don Davies

Read the report