By Janet Hazelton, President of the Nova Scotia Nurses’ Union

In 2017 the Nurses’ Union launched a campaign calling attention to the growing prevalence of workplace violence, especially within the health care sector. The statistics have not changed much since then, in fact, it’s possible that the situation has worsened in many ways. However, our obligation and determination to improve working conditions for nurses remains undeterred.

Nurses are among the most likely professionals to become victims of workplace violence. Each year on average, more than 1000 Canadian nurses are hurt severely enough to miss work. That’s more than police and firefighters combined.

Sadly, the statistics are likely far worse as nurses seldom report incidents of abuse. There is a prevailing sentiment among nurses that violence, outbursts, physical and verbal harassment are just part of the job. It’s a notion that the NSNU and our provincial counterparts have been working for decades to dispel.

Across Canada nurse unions have been working to make meaningful changes in Acute, Long-Term and Community Care to protect nurses. To that end, the NSNU is challenging employers to improve conditions in community emergency departments, as well as in long-term care, where the rates of violence are significantly higher. Progress has been made, but it’s not enough. Employers, unions, workers, and the public must work together to ensure safer work environments.

It’s up to all Nova Scotians to be compassionate and understanding when we enter health facilities. We must ensure that those who are providing care for our loved ones are able to do it safely and without the fear of violence.

Let’s work together to make health facilities safer for those who provide care. Let’s be vigilant, let’s end violence in the workplace.

CFNU Canadian Labour Congress