In May, I met with Sandi Mowat, the outgoing president of the Manitoba Nurses Union, at my constituency office, to discuss the rising tide of violence against health care workers.
Firstly, I’d like to take the time to thank Sandi for her 10 years of service and her hard work and dedication in advocating for Manitoba’s nurses and patients.
As an emergency room physician for 20 years, my colleagues and I would regularly be exposed to violence. On two separate occasions, I was assaulted. I was not alone in experiencing violence in my workplace, and sadly, this was often considered to be part of the job. It’s time for this to change.
According to the Canadian Federation of Nurses Union, 61 per cent of nurses reported abuse, harassment or assault on the job over a one-year period, leading many to suffer from the effects of PTSD. From 2006 to 2015, there were nearly 17,000 violence-related lost-time claims for health care workers. This has led to real financial impacts. In 2016, absenteeism for full-time nurses due to illness or injury cost Canada nearly a billion dollars.
Here in Manitoba in 2017, 52 per cent of nurses reported being physically assaulted and 30 per cent of ER nurses report weekly assaults. It’s evident that there is a need for federal engagement on this issue.
This is why, on June 13, I introduced a motion at the standing committee on health to study and develop recommendations on actions that the federal government, in partnership with the provinces and territories, can take to improve violence prevention in health care. I am pleased to share that my motion was adopted unanimously by all parties on the committee.
I look forward to working with my colleagues on the committee to address this issue and I will continue to update you on the progress of this study.
On June 14, I rose in the House of Commons to deliver a speech about the challenges health care workers in our community face and my motion at the health committee to address this serious issue. Since informing the community of my motion and sharing my speech online, I’ve received a lot of correspondence from the community sharing their personal stories and opinions on violence against health care workers. This feedback is important to me because it shows how much of a need there is for a study into violence against health care workers. These are real people in our communities experiencing this and I will continue to work hard to advocate for them.
If you would like to provide feedback on my motion or you require assistance with any federal matters, please contact my office by phone at 204-984-6432 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
This column was featured in The Metro and The Headliner on June 26. To view this column online, visit Canstar Community News’ website here.