Nursing Week, from May 8-14, is an opportunity to recognize nurses and the health care teams who work hard to provide excellent care every day. Unifor members and leadership are ensuring the recognition goes further than a simple “thank you” by campaigning for an amendment to the Criminal Code to protect nurses at work, and by demanding adequate health care funding.
On May 2, two Ontario nurses, along with Assistant to the President Katha Fortier, went to Queen’s Park to tell MPPs from all parties that the government’s help is needed to prevent violent assaults by patients and patients’ families toward nurses and other health care staff.
“We are asking for a signal from Ontario’s provincial politicians that the wave of violent assaults against nurses and health care staff is unacceptable," said Sandra Hillcoat, a Unifor RPN from Kitchener, ON. "The amendment we are asking all MPPs to support would require a judge to consider the fact that the victim of an assault is a health care worker as an aggravating circumstance for the purposes of sentencing.”
A similar Criminal Code provision covers transit employees in Canada. The amendment would apply to a nurse, doctor, personal support worker, paramedic or any other health care worker including those in long-term care, home care and other community support staff.
The amendment to the Criminal Code being sought can be found at unifor.org/nurseviolenceamendment.
Meanwhile in Nova Scotia, members have been active in campaigning against the McNeil Liberal government’s cuts to long-term health care.
“Care needs have escalated dramatically in recent years,” says Linda MacLeod, a long-term care worker in Cape Breton. “People used to walk into our facility but now everyone arrives by ambulance needing far more complex care. With budget cuts, we’re all forced to deliver more care in less time and with fewer supports.”
On April 26, Unifor presented over 3,000 signed petitions to the Nova Scotia NDP and Progressive Conservative leaders to demand public investment in long-term care. Both opposition parties have pledged to restore government funding to long-term care in the province, should they form the next government after the May 30 election date.
For more information, visit unifor.org/LTC.