Earlier today, a New Brunswick judge handed down a sentence in the case of Randy Van Horlick, the Acadieville man who who brutally assaulted an RN and LPN in March 2019. Van Horlick will serve six months incarceration and two years of probation.
The case was a shocking and grim reminder of the violence that nurses and health care workers are all too often subjected to.
There is no excuse for hitting a nurse. Period.
As the voice of more than 200,00 nurses in Canada, we are relieved to know that the judge in this case reached the same conclusion. It goes without saying that we take no pleasure in seeing a patient or their family member being sent to jail. That said, we also cannot accept a culture where health care workers are punched, kicked, slapped and spat on with impunity, which is sadly too often the case.
This kind of entrenched culture that considers violence perpetrated on health care workers as “routine” won’t change on its own. This is why the CFNU has long advocated for amending the Criminal Code to require a court to consider the fact that the victim of an assault is a health care sector worker to be an aggravating circumstance for the purposes of sentencing. Similar legislation exists for police officers and transit drivers who also routinely suffer violent attacks from members of the public. We believe that this type of legislation will not only act as a deterrent against violence, but that it will also help to raise awareness about the issue among police and the public.
Today, our thoughts are with the two courageous nurses at the heart of this case. Their fearlessness in pursuit of justice inspires us and moves us forward. We thank them for their perseverance and for achieving justice, not just for themselves, but for all the health care workers whose mistreatment was regarded as “just part of the job.”
President, Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions