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Violent assaults occur against 1 out of 2 nurses each year. Two Ontario nurses are at a Queen’s Park media conference tomorrow (Tuesday, May 2, 2017 at 9:30 a.m.) looking for all party support for a motion calling on the federal government to amend the Criminal Code to make violence against health care staff a more serious offense.

Ahead of Nursing Week celebrations next week, Maggie Jewell a registered practical nurse (RPN) from Lindsay and Sandra Hillcoat an RPN from Kitchener, say they are looking for more than accolades and statements read in the Legislature about the dedication, skills and compassion of nurses.

They want MPPs from all three political parties to take an unblinking look at the systematic and widespread problem that nurses and other health care staff face on the job – the problem of patient and family member violence. The nurses say that a health care workplace that is unsafe for staff is also unsafe for patients.

At Tuesday’s media conference, Jewel and Hillcoat will review the amendment to the federal Criminal Code they want all Ontario MPPs to support, regardless of party affiliation. Joining them at the Queen’s Park media studio are Katha Fortier, Assistant to the President of Unifor, and Michael Hurley, the President of the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU)/CUPE.

Unifor is Canada’s largest private sector union, with 310,000 members. The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) is Canada’s largest public sector union, with 640,000 members; OCHU is the Ontario hospital division of the CUPE. Together they represent over 100,000 health sector staff in Ontario.