WITH the election campaign in full swing, the BC Nurses’ Union is reaching out to all candidates, from all parties, asking them to sign a pledge to promote violence-free workplaces for nurses.
So far, dozens have lent their signatures to the cause, including Liberal Leader Christy Clark, NDP Leader John Horgan and Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver.
“We are pleased to see the three leaders, and candidates from around the province, standing up for nurses’ safety,” said BCNU President Gayle Duteil on Thursday. “While we continue to collect signatures and support, there are still many candidates who have yet to tell nurses that if elected to the BC legislature, they will make it a priority to ensure the safety of patient care and the nurses providing it.”
In addition to reducing the risk of violence at health care facilities, the pledge also asks candidates to ensure there are enough nurses at all times to manage care safely, establish security and Code White standards that protect nurses from aggression and provide properly trained security, 24/7.
“Workplace violence has been steadily rising for over a decade,” said Duteil. “Security staff at hospital ER’s and psychiatric units is often poorly trained and hands-off during incidents. At the same time, the constant state of under-staffing at facilities running at over-capacity also raises the risk of violence.”
BCNU is also asking candidates to support a modification of the Criminal Code of Canada to make violence against a nurse an “aggravated circumstance” for sentencing purposes, as it is already for transit operators.
“The judicial system often goes too easy on people who have caused serious injury during care,” said Duteil. “This has been a main focus of our anti-violence campaign since the beginning.”
“Remember, nurses’ vote and their vote counts. Whoever wins on May 9 needs to make their safety a priority,” Duteil warned those who haven’t signed the pledge yet.