December 6 is a time for Canadians to recommit to ending gender-based violence

Each year on December 6, United Nurses of Alberta remembers the 14 female engineering students who were murdered at l’École Polytechnique de Montréal in 1989 by an act of gender-based violence.

“UNA and its members recognize and mourn the anniversary of this national tragedy, and recommit ourselves to working for the end of gender-based violence in Canada and around the world,” said UNA President Heather Smith.

December 6 represents an opportunity for all Canadians to reflect on the impact of violence against women in our society, she said. “Communities and individuals need to speak out. All levels of government must take meaningful steps to prevent all forms of violence against women and girls in Canada. Unions like UNA play an important role in this work.”

“We have made progress in Canada,” Smith said, “but there is much more to do.”

Working on the front lines of health care, Alberta’s nurses see the impact of violence against women, and sometimes experience it in their own workplaces and homes, Smith observed. “This solemn occasion reminds us all to renew our commitment as union members and citizens to seeking practical ways to end violence against women and girls in Canadian homes, communities and workplaces.”

UNA is committed to creating safer workplaces for Alberta’s nurses, their patients and patients’ families.

The union’s 2018 International Nurses’ Week advertising campaign had the goal of bringing the issue and its impact on nurses to the attention of the public, Smith noted.

UNA’s effort also continues through the Professional Responsibility Concern process, which gives nurses the opportunity to raise their concerns about patient safety and to ensure employers consider and respond to their concerns. UNA’s Occupational Health & Safety committees, which are also included in the union’s collective agreements, address health and safety in nurses’ workplaces.

UNA believes strongly that all of Alberta’s nurses have a right to safe workplaces and a responsibility to ensure laws, rules and contract obligations are enforced to create a safe environment for our patients, residents, clients, and coworkers.