Fri Oct 28


  • October 13 - ONA is founded during an all-day Saturday meeting at Toronto's Westbury Hotel. Founding members decide on Association's name and adopt a constitution. Nurses' Association of Halton County Health Unit invited to merge with ONA. The press release announcing the event reads: "A province-wide union was formed on October 13, 1973 for the purpose of collective bargaining for nurses by nurses. Over 300 representatives of 85 independent nurses' associations certified as bargaining agents for nurses employed in institutions providing health care, public health units, visiting nurses organizations and industry nurses adopted a Constitution establishing the Ontario Nurses' Association (ONA).”
  • Jean Lowery, RN, is elected as founding ONA president. Founding Board of Directors elected.


January - ONA hearing before Ontario Labour Relations Board to prove trade union status; status granted.

  • ONA submits brief to Hospital Inquiry Commission expressing concern about drawbacks of compulsory arbitration process, while strongly supporting province-wide bargaining.
  • ONA summons representatives of 41 nurses' associations to a meeting in a first attempt at central negotiations for hospital nurses.
  • Central negotiations at a standstill, nurses take strike vote and announce strike deadline.
  • Nurses from around province demonstrate, carrying placards reading "Honk if you support nurses." Noise results in protest to police by hospital team.
  • Ottawa Civic Hospital arbitration award released. Nurses' negotiating team plans to base negotiations on the award.
  • July 16 - parties settle; 18-month agreement covering 10,000 registered nurses in 41 hospitals brings a starting salary increase to $850 from $640 per month while maximum salaries increase by 50 per cent.
  • Ministry of Health accepts rates of pay established in agreement between ONA and hospitals as being province-wide standards for RNs.
  • OHA gives go-ahead to other hospitals to pay salary increases as well.
  • A similar attempt to establish central negotiations for PHNs fails. ONA asks Ministry to provide funding to give PHN's wage parity with hospital nurses. Some health units do give parity.
  • September - Anne Gribben, RN, is appointed ONA's Chief Executive Officer by Board of Directors.
  • Position paper on collective bargaining prepared and approved by Board.
  • December - First ONA annual meeting.
  • Nurses Central Security Committee disbands and funds transfer to ONA.
  • ONA logo design contest held for members.
  • ONA Newsletter launched.
  • Jean Lowery, RN, is voted president for second term


Dues increased from $5.50 per month to $9.00.

  • Muskoka-Parry Sound Public Health Unit nurses strike for five weeks; one of many PHN strikes to achieve parity with hospital nurses and gain the right to arbitration. Job action included marches on Queen's Park.
  • Sunnyside Home nurses get a 42 per cent wage increase.
  • Seven new EROs hired to represent members.
  • Hospital Inquiry Commission recommends province-wide bargaining, but recommendation not implemented.
  • Hospital nurses elect a negotiation committee and set bargaining objectives.
  • ONA logo selected and pins designed.
  • Central hospital negotiations begin.
  • RNAO celebrates 50th anniversary.
  • Members succeed in having term 'dental nurse' removed from regulations for Health Disciplines Act.
  • ONA Board of Directors recommends province-wide bargaining for nurses employed in the community health field.
  • Public health nurses set bargaining goals.
  • Nurses set precedent for province-wide bargaining for hospital employees.
  • Government introduces wage controls for three years.


Berenice Hicks, RN, is president.

  • ONA submits brief for Special Review Committee - recommends establishing 24-hour satellite or community clinics where PHN's provide primary care. Committee reviews public health services to ensure public needs are met.
  • ONA head office moves to 415 Yonge Street.


Lois Fairley, RN, is president.

  • Peterborough County Health Unit nurses successfully appeal an Anti-Inflation Board decision to roll back salary increase from 15 per cent to eight per cent.
  • ONA and OHA find province-wide bargaining for hospital nurses mutually acceptable.
  • Hospitals request Labour Board's conditions for central bargaining.
  • Peel Health Unit nurses awarded parity with RNs.
  • "Stop Waffling Act Now" - ONA submits brief on collective bargaining for nurses to Ontario government. Brief sums up 12 years of government inactivity. ONA targets are:
    1. province-wide collective bargaining for nurses
    2. access to the provisions of the Hospital Labour Disputes Arbitration Act for PHNs.
      ONA criticizes the government for failing to resolve the ineffectual collective bargaining process for hospital nurses and PHNs.
  • "Let Us Take Care!" - ONA releases a publication to public and press calling for more money for mental health programs, a halt to the decline in health care and an end to abuse in hospitals. ONA provides substantial evidence for allegations. PHNs challenge Premier Bill
  • Davis for breaking election campaign promises.
  • ONA public health reps meet with labour and health ministries and Boards of Health to resolve outstanding disputes. Minister of Labour proposes a one-time arbitration to reach settlement, but Board of Health declines. Public Health Committee recommends a return to the bargaining table to end two years without settlements.
  • Major breakthrough! Thanks to documentation of workload by nurses at Mount Sinai
  • Hospital, arbitration provides a professional responsibility clause in a hospital contract for the first time. The clause provides for an independent committee of nursing experts to investigate and assess workload problems in a health agency, and recognizes the rights and responsibility of nurses to be involved in assessing quality and quantity of patient care within that agency.
  • ONA and RNAO present joint report to membership on job evaluation, describing nursing functions to be applied to any job-evaluation system. Ministry does not proceed with project due to OHA reluctance and lack of funding.
  • Hospital bargaining - Wellesley Hospital collective agreement establishes salary rate for 21 hospitals.


Sharon Thompson, RN, is president.

  • Phasing out of wage and price controls. Nursing homes and public health units hardest hit by AIB.
  • ONA and other public-sector unions develop plan to contend with possible averaging of ONA requests judicial review of Mount Sinai Hospital grievance award upholding suspension of three nurses who felt more patients would add to their already unsafe workload, and would endanger all patients in their care. Grievances denied.
  • ONA holds "Role of The Nurse Conference" to discuss professionalism, negligence and competence.
  • PHN's establishes Public Health Nursing Definition Committee.
  • Hospital nurses vote to continue local negotiations.
  • Joint ONA/RNAO hospital job evaluation project started in 1975 grinds to a halt because of insufficient field test sites. Hospitals unsupportive.
  • Scarborough Centenary Hospital nurses demonstrate (20 months without contract) when
  • OHA reneges on agreement to use arbitration award as basis for settlement.
  • ONA submits brief to government on occupational health and safety bill, stating employer should minimize nurses' personal risk by providing protective and preventative measures.
  • ONA responds to "Review of the Two-Year Diploma Nursing Program in College of Applied Arts and Technology in Ontario"; supports extension of program, more clinical experience and opportunity to re-design curriculum.
  • ONA Board passes a policy stating ONA will not insist on reinstatement of a discharged nurse found by the CNO to be incompetent and whose registration has been revoked.
  • ONA give staff union voluntary recognition.
  • St. Catharines General Hospital nurses demonstrate to protest hospital's unwillingness to sign new collective agreement.
  • ONA celebrates 5th birthday party.
  • Stratford General Hospital nurses demonstrate to protest employers' refusal to implement salary increases awarded at arbitration.
  • ONA protests AlB's continued functioning without limitation on power to roll back compensation.
  • Move towards group bargaining for some nursing homes.
  • Malpractice insurance policy made available to members.


Sandra McAllister, RN, is president.

  • ONA Security Fund established.
  • Benefits Committee drafts position papers on health and welfare benefits, illness and disability income protection and retirement income.
  • ONA protests government's daily fee for chronic patients in hospitals.
  • "So that's what a PHN does" pamphlet released to public.
  • ONA protests government cutbacks in the number of active hospital beds.
  • Health and Welfare Benefits Committee releases "Pension and Disability Income Protection" to members.
  • Kingston General Hospital 1978-80 arbitration award gives full retroactivity on all monetary issues. Sets precedent for future hospital negotiations.
  • Government standardizes funding for public health, grants voluntary accreditation of public health programs, equalizes access to basic heath care in Ontario and provides $1-million fund for research and development of public health issues.
  • Bill 25 passes - expedites grievance arbitrations, puts ceiling on arbitrators' fees and provides third-party intervention.
  • Professional responsibility clause awarded to Toronto General Hospital without criteria, making clause obtainable at more than 120 hospitals.
  • Grey-Owen Sound public health nurses locked out illegally for four weeks. Ontario Labour Relations Board orders employer to cease and desist and comply with arbitration as ONA invokes clause in previous contract.
  • Kay Lewis, Associate Executive Officer, retires.
  • ONA encourages members to join Joint Occupational Health and Safety Committee in work places.
  • ONA holds first Public Relations Conference.
  • ONA and staff union ratify first collective agreement.
  • Cut-backs affect hospital staff and communities. ONA says health-care system costly and inefficient.
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