moved for leave to introduce Bill C-202, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (assault against a health care worker).
Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to rise today to introduce an important bill to Parliament, again, with thanks to the hon. member for Hamilton Mountain, for seconding it.
The legislation would amend the Criminal Code to require a court to consider that if the victim of an assault were a health care worker, this fact would be an aggravating circumstance for the purposes of sentencing.
Violence against health care workers has become a pervasive and growing problem within the Canadian health care system. Over the last decade, violence-related lost-time claims for front-line health care workers has increased by 66%, three times the rate for police and correctional officers combined.
National data also shows that 61% of nurses have experienced a serious problem with some form of violence over a recent 12-month period.
The bill would send a strong message that those who provide such critical services must be treated with respect and security. They take care of our health and safety and we must take care of theirs.
I call on all parliamentarians to support this vital and overdue legislation.
(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)