All employers in British Columbia have various obligations and duties toward employees. The Workers' Compensation Act requires employers to protect the health and safety of employees. An employer who fails to comply with the required standards could be held accountable if an employee should suffer a preventable workplace injury. However, some believe that health care workers in particular need more protection against workplace violence.
Members of the BC Nurses' Union welcomed the recent proposal of Bill C-434 that would lead to an amendment to the Canada Criminal Code and require investigations into assaults against health care workers as crimes for potential sentencing. Peace officers and transit operators are already professions that are protected under Canada's Criminal Code. Advocates now ask for health care professionals to be added to the list.
The sections of the Criminal Code that BCNU wants changed cover circumstances of aggravated assault against a nurse or a public transit operator committed at a time when the victim was performing his or her duties. A second component of the proposed legislation is the request for nurses to be added as presumed victims of post-traumatic stress disorder and other traumas in the province's Workers' Compensation Act. WorkSafeBC reports that a significant number of PTSD claims are filed each year
Health care workers in British Columbia might find comfort knowing that authorities are looking out for them. However, not all employers comply with safety regulations, and others might deny the validity of workers' compensation claims for PTSD or any other trauma-related workplace injury. An employment law lawyer who is experienced in dealing with cases that involve assaults against nurses can assist with benefits claims and any other ensuing legal proceedings. Legal counsel can also assist employers who have questions about their obligations toward employees.