Registed Nurses' Association of Ontario


Public Health Nurses brief Deb Matthews, Minister Responsible for Women's Issues, Minister of Children and Youth Services, on the benefits of screening all women for abuse

LONDON, Dec. 5, 2007 – The day after Canadians remember the 14 young women who were murdered at l’Ecole Polytechnique de Montréal, Minister Deb Matthews will meet with nurses at the Middlesex-London Health Unit to learn more about the role they play in protecting women and girls from violence.

Nurses at the Health Unit routinely ask all females over the age of 12 if they’ve ever experienced physical, sexual or emotional abuse. They are following a protocol that was recommended in a report issued by the Health Unit’s Task Force on the Health Effects of Woman Abuse in 2000. The Health Unit is enhancing its screening program by incorporating recommendations outlined in a best practice guideline developed by the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO.)

“Nurses are ideally-suited to screen women for abuse,” explains Irmajean Bajnok, Director of the International Affairs and Best Practice Guidelines Programs at RNAO. “They are accessible and enjoy a high degree of public trust. They interact with women during times of stress and illness, as well as during life transitions such as adolescence, pregnancy and parenthood.”

During the meeting with Minister Matthews, nurses will describe the numerous health and safety benefits of routinely screening women and girls for abuse.


  • Minister Deb Matthews, Minister Responsible for Women’s Issues, Minister of Children and Youth Services
  • Diane Bewick, Director of Family Health Services, Middlesex-London Health Unit
  • Irmajean Bajnok, Director of International Affairs and Best Practice Guidelines Programs, Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario
  • Public Health Nurses involved in screening women and girls for abuse:
  • RNs Rhonda Brittan, Mary Huffman and Susan Hall

What: Briefing for Minister Deb Matthews on the role nurses play in protecting women and girls from violence.

When: Friday, December 7, 2 to 3 p.m.

Where: Middlesex-London Health Unit
50 King Street
Teaching Room #2, Lower Level
London, ON. N6A 5L7

Members of the media are invited to attend.

The mission of the Middlesex-London Health Unit, a teaching health unit, is to promote wellness, prevent disease and injury, and protect the public’s health through the delivery of public health programs, services and research.

The efforts of Health Unit staff help the residents of Middlesex County and the City of London live balanced, healthy lives.

RNAO’s ambitious Best Practice Guidelines Program, funded by the Ministry of Health and Long-term Care, was launched in 1999 to provide the best available evidence for patient care across a wide spectrum of health-care areas. The 36 guidelines developed to date focus on direct client care areas and healthy work environments and are a substantive contribution towards building excellence in Ontario’s health-care system. They are available to nurses and other health care professionals across Canada and abroad. To learn more about RNAO’s Nursing Best Guidelines Program or to view these resources please visit

The Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario is the professional association representing registered nurses in Ontario. Since 1925, RNAO has lobbied for healthy public policy, promoted excellence in nursing practice, increased nurses’ contribution to shaping the health-care system, and influenced decisions that affect nurses and the public they serve.


For more information, please contact:
Marion Zych, Director of Communications, RNAO
Phone: 416-408-5605
Toll free: 1-800-268-7199 ext.209
Cell: 647-406-5605