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Opinion: Bullying of health-care workers has to stop

Nickel Belt MP Marc Serré has strong words for people who feel it is their right to harass and bully health-care workers, especially after their work during the pandemic

I wish to reach out to the electorate to express concerns and advocate for anti-bullying.

Inspiration can be drawn easily from the brave and inspirational acts of 50 students from Cambridge, Nova Scotia, who back in 2007 showed solidarity to support a fellow student who was bullied for wearing a pink shirt. A movement that has garnered international recognition and is promoted in Canada every Feb. 22.

It is very valuable to mention this important day because I feel that it will help highlight how it is not ok to accept or tolerate this type of behavior at any age, much less towards people who are working hard each and every day to care for the vulnerable individuals.

To build upon my position, I feel most would share my sentiment that the last three years have been extremely challenging and painful for many. Each and every person was impacted by the pandemic in some way.

Our health-care system as a whole — from hospitals, long-term care facilities and public health providers — was extremely hard hit. Patients in hospitals and residents in long-term care, along with their families, were heavily relying on our medical staff to care for them as best as possible.

This was an enormous challenge that imposed a very heavy burden on all medical staff, such as doctors, nurses, PSW’s, radiologists, laboratory technicians, custodian staff, administration and so many more.

As an elected official, I do feel that I am expected to put the safety and best interest of residents above my own. I would imagine that those in the medical field do this on a daily basis. That is why it is incomprehensible to hear stories about the pandemic and still today of instances of intimidation and bullying toward individuals in the medical field who have and continue to work hard to care for our most vulnerable citizens.

I have heard so many stories and personally have experienced situations of loved ones, in hospital and in long-term care during the pandemic, and for a lack of a better word, it was hell to live through for many. Being unable to visit their loved one and so much fear of the unknown was unbearable at times.

So now imagine the hell staff experienced sacrificing themselves and at times staying away from their own families to care for the sick and those in need of care to find themselves to be victims of bullying. That is not acceptable. It is not OK to take out anger, frustration or discourse about regulations that are in place intended to protect the patient or resident by victimizing those responsible for their care.

Targeting people in the health-care profession by intimidation and bullying is wrong. They have been overworked and under a great deal of pressure. The last thing they should be subjected to, is fear of going to work, and not knowing if they will be able to get into the building, or leave work without being coerced, which will inevitably affect their mental health and potentially affect their ability to work, which will impact the level of care they can offer, which in the end only hurts those in need of care.

They have taken jobs to help people who cannot help themselves and need safe quality care. So those who choose to bully are only hurting the very people they claim they are advocating for. There are proper channels to file complaints and those options should be exercised.

We have been educating our children absolutely on the devastating impacts of bullying, and to now hear stories of adults taking the intimidation approach is so wrong. I personally believe that this kind of aggressive behavior is not widely supported, and I feel we need to stand up and not be afraid to denounce this complaint.

In closing, there is no doubt that there are far better, kind and caring people in this country than those who choose to spread misinformation, fear and negativity. I am proud to be the federal representative for Nickel Belt residents and want to thank everyone who has taken it upon themselves to exercise patients during such difficult times and took a moment to help their neighbors and to be kind to one another. We have come so far; I know we can change the narrative together.

Marc Serré is the Liberal MP for Nickel Belt.