Barb Wahl, RN, is President
January: ONA affiliates with the Ontario Health Coalition on an interim basis following a unanimous vote of Local Coordinators at the January PCM.
Mediation between Hospital Central Negotiating Team and the OHA ends in a three-year settlement with wage increases ranging from 6.7 to 31 per cent.
Central hospital settlement is ratified by 88 per cent of the ONA members voting.
February: ONA’s strategic outcomes are finalized by the Board.
March: ONA joins the Coalition for Primary Health Care, a group of 11 health-care provider and patient advocate groups.
The Health Services Restructuring Committee issues its final report and its four-year mandate ends.
President Barb Wahl meets with federal Finance Minister Paul Martin.
April: ONA wins a Bill 136 vote with non-unionized nurses at Salvation Army Grace Hospital and at Scarborough Grace Hospital.
ONA produces a video about the case of member Gita Proudman, The Gita Proudman Story. Proudman faced charges of second-degree murder in the death of a severely disabled newborn patient.
May 8-14: This year’s Nursing Week theme is Ontario Nurses – Leaders in Health Care. The Royal Bank donates $20,000 to support Nursing Week activities. ONA’s bilingual, calendar, information kit, radio ad and brochure support the theme.
An E. coli outbreak begins in Walkerton, Ontario after contamination in the water system goes unreported. ONA Local 4 nurses work through the outbreak.
June: ONA meets with representatives of the government, the OHA, employees and other unions to resolve human resources issues before management and governance of psychiatric hospitals are transferred to public hospitals.
Health-care activist Shirley Douglas urges PCM delegates to join with the groundswell fighting to preserve Medicare. ONA makes a video of her speech available to members.
July: An ONA media release calls attention to the provincial government burying an actuarial report that proves primary care reform would result in major cost savings to the health-care system.
Between June 1999 and July 2000, ONA lobbies the provincial government extensively to extend the Hospital Labour Disputes Arbitration Act (HLDAA) to cover the community sector, apply successor rights in divestment of work from the hospital sector to the homes sector or to hospitals expanding into homes-sector work, obtain successor rights in relation to Request for Proposal (RFP) winners, challenge the RFP managed-care approach to community care and use information from Coroner’s inquests to improve staff and client interests.
August: In a media release, ONA welcomes the latest provincial funding announcement for emergency rooms but says it is not enough to fix the crisis.
September: As the Ontario legislature opens for the fall session, ONA issues a release saying it is keeping its eye on the government to ensure that federal monies allocated for health care are used for health care.
October: ONA members rally across the province to draw attention to health care as an issue in the upcoming federal election.
October 26: The third televote begins to elect five vice-presidents.
November: ONA demands the provincial government act on the recommendations coming out of the Joshua Fleuelling Inquest, including implementing the recommendations of the 1999 Nursing Task Force.
November 20: Equity caucuses precede the ONA Biennial Meeting at the Royal York.
November 21-23: ONA’s Biennial Convention takes place with the theme “We Can Make it Better.” Convention highlights include the launch of the “Not Enough Nurses Campaign: Your Tax Cuts at Work” in coordination with the Centre for Social Justice and other groups aimed at drawing attention to the impact of tax cuts on health care. Delegates take home campaign buttons and postcards. Walkerton nurses are honoured and their photo runs in The Globe & Mail. A panel discussion on trends and issues in human rights is organized by the Human Rights and Equity caucus. ONA’s redesigned website is launched, and members vote to affiliate with the Canadian Federation of Nurses’ Unions and, as a corollary, the Canadian Labour Congress.
December: A new ONA orientation video is mailed to all Local Coordinators and Bargaining Unit Presidents.
Barb Wahl, RN, is President
January: President Barb Wahl and CEO Lesley Bell meet with Ontario Chief Nursing Officer Kathleen McMillan and assistant deputy minister John King to discuss nursing retention, workload and education and how they relate to bargaining.
February: President Barb Wahl presents ONA’s views on Bill 159, the Personal Health Information Privacy Act, to a standing committee of the provincial legislature.
ONA Vice-Presidents and members appear on CBC’s Counterspin.
ONA and other unions participating in the Pay Equity Charter Challenge decide to continue with the case.
ONA co-sponsors province-wide long-term care forums.
March: Hospital central negotiations are underway with the OHA and wages, benefits and quality of worklife are priorities.
President Barb Wahl presents to overflow an crowd at the final long-term care forum at Queen’s Park.
The Royal Bank of Canada announces it will partner with ONA for Nursing Week, with donations to ONA Locals and a $20,000 lump sum for provincial activities.
April: Talks between Community Care Access Centres’ Central Negotiating Team and the employer break down when the employer fails to present a monetary offer putting ONA CCAC nurses on par with other sectors.
The Nursing Homes Central Negotiating Team reaches a tentative contract settlement with nursing home employers.
Hospital bargaining breaks down over key priorities: wages and benefits.
ONA wins a Bill 136 vote to represent all nurses at St. Joseph’s Health Care in Hamilton, retaining 1,038 members and gaining 174 new ones.
The first issue of ONA’s new Front Lines membership publication is launched.
May: Members in the homes sector ratify settlement.
Mediation talks with the OHA break down.
May 1-2: ONA’s May Day! May Day! Nursing in Crisis! campaign brings ONA members to the streets to demand the government address workload concerns and the nursing shortage. President Barb Wahl and ONA members deliver more than 11,000 signatures on a “Not Enough Nurses” petition to Premier Mike Harris.
June: President Barb Wahl squares off with OHA President David MacKinnon on TVO’s Studio 2.
Signatures on “Not Enough Nurses: Your Tax Cuts at Work” petitions reach 13,000.
Requests for magenta ribbons in support of the May Day! May Day! Nursing in Crisis! campaign and bargaining reach 42,000.
ONA gains 381 new members between July 1, 2000 and June 30, 2001 at Lakeridge Health Corporation, Finlandia Nursing Home in Sudbury, Royal Ottawa Health Care Group, Collingwood General and Marine Hospital and Haldimand War Memorial Hospital.
Hospital Local Coordinators and Bargaining Unit Presidents vote overwhelmingly to continue the May Day! campaign throughout the summer. Arbitration is tentatively scheduled for late fall.
July: The hot weather doesn’t stop members from continuing with their successful May Day! May Day! Nursing in Crisis! campaign by handing out leaflets, writing letters and displaying campaign buttons, magenta ribbons, t-shirts, bumper stickers, posters and lawn signs.
More than 50 letters are sent to ONA allied groups to solicit their support for our campaign. Many letters of support are received.
ONA speaks out about the lack of success of the province’s Family Health Network Pilot Projects, saying the chief concern is the failure to use nurse practitioners to ease Ontario’s doctor shortage.
ONA issues a media release responding to the coroner jury’s report into the death of Sanchia Bulgin, a patient at the Hospital for Sick Children. ONA is extremely disappointed that the report contains no recommendations to address the issue of nurse staffing in Ontario hospitals.
ONA says the OHA 2001 Report Card doesn’t adequately reflect the real impact of cuts to nurse staffing and hospital funding.
ONA states the provincial government’s six-page questionnaire asking Ontarians their views on the health-care system won’t do much good because the government has a history of not listening to or utilizing feedback from health providers and the public.
August: ONA holds a one-day discussion group with new members to learn about the challenges and realities they face.
ONA First Vice-President Brenda Hallihan and Vice-President Marcia Taylor lead a discussion with several American nurses and health-care consumers who want to learn more about the Canadian health-care system.
ONA questions the Joint Provincial Nursing Committee’s progress report, which states that the government’s “funding initiatives have potentially resulted in the equivalent of up to 12,833 additional nursing positions.” These positions are not filtering to the front lines where they are needed most, ONA says.
September: ONA meets with the OHA to discuss the arbitration phase for the Hospital Central Collective Agreement.
ONA begins a series of editorial board meetings with the editors and publishers of major daily newspapers in Ontario to influence the editorial position and encourage support for nurses’ efforts at arbitration.
ONA members from Community Care Access Centres overwhelmingly ratify a central agreement, which provides salary increases and benefit improvements.
The ONA Board of Directors donates $5,000 to support the relief efforts of the American Red Cross following the September 11 terrorist attacks, and matches, dollar-for-dollar, any funds raised by the Locals.
October: More than 13,000 signatures on the “Not Enough Nurses” petition are sent to the provincial government.
December 10-11 are set as dates for mediation talks between ONA and the OHA. Arbitration is scheduled for December 16 and 17.
A report from Faculty of Nursing researchers at the University of Toronto supports Ontario nurses’ long-held contention that higher proportions of nursing staff at hospitals leads to better patient health and satisfaction outcomes.
ONA issues a media release with Local 100 about the new strategic direction of the London Health Sciences Centres, which means some of the most complex pediatric procedures currently performed at the hospital will be transferred to other facilities in the province.
ONA leaders and members take part in a protest outside the Toronto hearings of the Senator Kirby commission. The Kirby Report on the options facing our health-care system focuses on privatization.
October 26-November 1: The fourth consecutive televote is conducted for the positions of President and First Vice-President. Incumbents Barb Wahl and Brenda Hallihan are re-elected.
November: ONA issues a media release expressing outrage after two nurses from the Hospital for Sick Children are charged with criminal negligence causing the death of patient Lisa Shore.
ONA expresses deep concern about Bill 130, the Community Care Access Corporations Act, which will convert non-profit CCACs into statutory community care access corporations with CEOs and board members appointed by the Lieutenant Governor-in-Council. ONA’s media release is one of the top-10 most accessed files on the Canada Newswire website that day.
A one-day meeting for community sector Bargaining Unit Presidents develops strategies for sector professional and collective bargaining issues.
December: A meeting is held with Local leaders in the hospital sector to outline some of the details of the settlement.
President Barb Wahl, First Vice-President Brenda Hallihan and CEO Lesley Bell meet with a delegation of public health and hospital nurses and doctors from Shanghai to discuss current nursing realities in Ontario.
ONA reissues its censure of the University Health Network.
December 12: During the final attempt at mediation, a settlement is reached in the hospital sector.
Barb Wahl, RN, is President
January: The Romanow Commission on the Future of Health Care is up and running. ONA focuses on saving Medicare.
The second annual Treasurers’ Conference allows new and returning treasurers to learn about ONA financial policies and keeping Local books.
Forty public health nurses from the Grey Bruce Health Unit in Owen Sound, Local 4, vote to strike the same day as the government releases the findings of its public survey on the health-care system which shows that Ontarians want a refocus on wellness promotion and illness prevention.
The tentative settlement in the hospital sector is ratified by an overwhelming 91 per cent. The agreement ends the very successful May Day! campaign.
February: Public health nurses from the Grey Bruce Health Unit, Local 4, settle with the employer one day before they are to hit the picket line. Both sides ratify.
The ONA Board of Directors decides to work with the Ontario Health Coalition on its Saving Medicare campaign.
Forty-two public health nurses from the Lambton Health Unit, Local 19, in Sarnia vote to strike one day before conciliation talks break down.
March: Public health nurses at the Lambton Health Unit, Local 19, reach a tentative settlement during mediation talks and ratify a day later.
ONA officially launches its Saving Medicare campaign at the March PCM in Toronto. The campaign is aimed at educating the public and lobbying the Romanow Commission and the government for adherence to the principles of the Canada Health Act. On the eve of the PCM, ONA screens the documentary “Shelter from the Storm,” which features ONA member, homeless advocate and street nurse Cathy Crowe and her work with the Toronto Disaster Relief Committee. ONA members raise $1,000 for the committee. President Barb Wahl unveils the Nursing Week theme, “Nurses: Trusted. Essential. Committed to Saving Medicare,” which ties into ONA’s Saving Medicare campaign.
The Ontario Health Coalition unveils its Saving Medicare campaign, with a three-week door-to-door canvass in April and May. ONA members are encouraged to help out. Some ONA members chair local branches of the Ontario Health Coalition. ONA issues its hugely popular “Say Yes! National Public Medicare” buttons and posters.
President Barb Wahl, First Vice-President Brenda Hallihan and CEO Lesley Bell meet for the first time with Mary Beth Valentine, the new chief nursing officer for Ontario.
April: ONA leaders and members take part in the mass appeal to save public Medicare, organized by the Ontario Health Coalition outside the public hearings of the Romanow Commission in Toronto, Ottawa and Sudbury.
ONA members participate in a door-to-door canvass, handing out leaflets and red ribbons – a symbol of support for Medicare. They also write letters, gather signatures for ONA’s Saving Medicare petition and plan events.
ONA launches a new publication for Local Coordinators entitled, ONA Alert, focused on Saving Medicare campaign news.
ONA members approach their city councils about declaring May 15 National Medicare Day. Many are successful.
May 6: President Barb Wahl teams up with renowned health-care activist Shirley Douglas to lead a panel of six members at a media conference launching Nursing Week. The panelists describe their difficult working conditions and urge the public to help protect and improve Medicare. ONA members and leaders take part in an array of celebrations for Nursing Week. ONA radio ads are played on stations throughout the province.
May 9: ONA responds to the provincial Throne Speech, which acknowledges that nurses don’t receive sufficient respect. ONA calls the speech a hopeful sign, but notes that no funding is announced to deal with the nursing shortage.
May 15: National Medicare Day! ONA members from Kenora to Kingston take to the streets to protest against the growing threat of privatization. At Queen’s Park, members form a human chain of in the form of a red ribbon on the front lawn and lead the gathering through the singing of “O Canada.”
The door-to-door canvass wraps up and the Ontario Health Coalition reports that 3,000 volunteers – including many ONA members – canvassed more than 215,000 people throughout the province.
President Barb Wahl speaks to the Toronto hearings of the Romanow Commission and is quoted in dozens of newspapers.
June: At the PCM, ONA hosts a public forum on Saving Medicare featuring Bea Levis of the Ontario Coalition of Senior Citizen Organizations, Dr. Rosana Pellizzari from the Davenport Perth Neighbourhood Community Centre, and Jamie Court, co-author of Making a Killing: HMOs and the Threat to Your Health.
The Toronto-York Region branch of the VON, Local 5, and the Hamilton Program for Schizophrenia, Local 50, vote in favour of a strike.
The ONA Board of Directors, Local leaders and members attend the Canadian Labour Congress convention in Vancouver.
July: Eight ONA members from the Hamilton Program for Schizophrenia (HPS), Local 50, strike. Key issues include wages which are 20-per-cent below the norm for mental health facilities, and flexible working hours.
ONA censures Sarnia General Hospital of the Lambton Hospitals' Group, employers for approximately 700 registered nurses from Local 19.
ONA members join NDP MPPs in a successful rock-in to protest a 15-per-cent increase in fees to nursing home residents. The government agrees to phase in the increase over three years.
September: After almost three months of job action, members of Local 50 reach an agreement with their employer.
At the start of the fall session of the Ontario Legislature, ONA leaders call on the government to improve working conditions for front-line nurses, reduce overtime and allow nurses to take scheduled vacations. Stress, burnout, injuries and illness, make nurses the sickest workforce in Canada.
October: ONA members rally in Brampton and Ottawa, protesting the government’s P3 initiative. President Barb Wahl addresses the Brampton rally, calling on the government to expand publicly funded and administered services.
ONA leaders argue the Kirby Report doesn’t reflect what Canadians want in health system. President Barb Wahl says nurses want profit out of health care and an end to the nursing shortage.
ONA meets with officials of the Ministry of Health to discuss how long-term care facilities are spending the $100 million in funding the government announced in July.
November: ONA’s Biennial Convention draws more than 1,000 delegates. Keynote speaker John Wright of Ipsos Reid says polling shows the vast majority of Canadians believe that increasing hospital hiring, budgets and paying nurses more would help resolve the nursing shortage. Author Linda McQuaig tells delegates to fight health-care privatization because it will have few benefits for the Canadian public and could jeopardize quality care. A Vector poll shows two-thirds of Ontarians oppose private, for-profit companies operating MRI and CT clinics. Delegates join the Ontario Health Coalition outside the OHA annual meeting to protest OHA support for public-private partnership hospitals (P3s). Delegates decide that the June PCM will be held outside Toronto.
November 28: ONA welcomes the recommendations of the Romanow Commission's Report on the Future of Health Care in Canada. Report recommendations support ONA's position on strengthening and expanding public services and rejecting privatization.
Barb Wahl, RN, is President
January/February: ONA participates in an NDP media conference questioning spending by long-term care facility operators. ONA and the NDP say $100 million in funding provided by the government is being spent elsewhere, not on staffing.
Nurses at the Royal Ottawa Hospital argue that patient care will suffer and access will be reduced with the layoffs of nurses. Layoffs go ahead, despite a cash infusion of almost $3 million from the provincial government.
ONA censures the Niagara Health System.
March: SARS – severe acute respiratory syndrome – is diagnosed in Toronto and quickly becomes an outbreak in the area, and a major focus for ONA for the following months. Nurses are among the dozens of health-care workers who contract SARS. Hospitals are closed. Meetings and educational sessions at ONA head office are cancelled. ONA urges that hospitals be closed to visitors. As the outbreak builds, ONA warns that shortages of properly fitting masks are putting the health and safety of nurses at risk of SARS and again urges closing hospitals to visitors, noting that many facilities allow the public to come and go at will. ONA is deluged by calls from the media and receives some of the most extensive coverage in its history. ONA leads the call for improved quarantine procedures and protection for hospital staff.
March 20: ONA participates in a joint media release with the NDP demanding the government reverse planned nursing layoffs at the University Health Network. “Nurses are fed up with being treated like disposable widgets,” President Barb Wahl says in the release. “Nurses aren’t surplus items to be tossed out at whim. That’s how we got into the current shortage mess.” Wahl joins Sudbury MPP Shelley Martel in calling for immediate action from the government to protect nursing jobs and invest in quality public health care.
April: The SARS outbreak continues. ONA works to ensure that members know their rights, particularly the right to refuse unsafe work, and keep them informed about equipment and procedures that can protect them from the virus. ONA develops and distributes information about reporting injuries to the WSIB, and about the role of joint health and safety committees. The legislature reconvenes and ONA demands that the provincial government examine the impact of the SARS outbreak on front-line care providers and deal with the nursing shortage. ONA says the SARS outbreak graphically shows what could happen when several hundred nurses are removed from a system that is desperately understaffed, and where working conditions are very difficult. ONA says the SARS outbreak demonstrates that bedside nurses must be fully equipped, protected and prepared to cope with virulent outbreaks.
April 30: ONA issues a media release responding to the Throne Speech and demanding that the provincial government confront the nursing shortage as it reviews the impact of the SARS outbreak.
May: ONA leaders meet with nurses in Ottawa and Chatham to kick off Nursing Week. The theme is “Ontario nurses, when we can't care everyone hurts. Let's work together to promote safety, dignity and respect in the workplace.” The SARS outbreak makes the occupational health and safety message timely and appropriate. Members receive a Fox 40 emergency whistle and laminated cards with information on what to do if they are injured or become ill on the job. A companion piece to Nursing Week is a special all-member mailing of a letter from President Barb Wahl congratulating members on their dedication and courage throughout the SARS outbreak and their ongoing professionalism and commitment to their patients. Many Nursing Week activities are postponed due to concerns about SARS.
May 6: Federal Health Minister McLellan announces a National Advisory Group on SARS and Public Health to be chaired by Dr. David Naylor, Dean of Medicine at the University of Toronto and including senior hospital, disease control and public health officials. Chief Nursing Officers from University Health Network and St. Boniface Hospital in Winnipeg are included.
June: In a strongly worded letter to Premier Ernie Eves, ONA raises concerns about the effectiveness of masks against SARS and the Minister of Labour's decision to ease off on fit-testing requirements.
ONA and other unions attending the conference of the Canadian Federation of Nurses’ Unions rally at Scarborough General Hospital, the site of the first SARS outbreak.
ONA members attending the PCM march on Queen’s Park to protest the government’s response to the SARS outbreak.
June 30: ONA expresses condolences to the family and friends of nurse, Nelia Laroza, the first RN to die of SARS. Nelia Laroza, who worked on the orthopedic floor at North York General Hospital, was a dedicated professional, an ONA member and one of 15 nurses working on the orthopedic floor who contracted SARS in March.
The ONA membership gives direction to ONA to enhance contract administration services and to try and reduce the time period in which arbitration files are resolved through the Litigation Pilot Project.
July: Tecla Lin, a nurse at West Park Healthcare Centre and Local 125 member, is the second nurse to die of SARS. After more than 35 years in nursing, Tecla Lin was one of the first nurses to volunteer for the SARS unit at West Park. ONA says, “At this time, our only concern is for the family of this dedicated nurse.”
ONA, along with OPSEU and the Ontario Health Coalition, sponsor an information session/rally and barbecue at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) in Toronto to protest privatization. CAMH was slated to become a public-private partnership hospital.
July 5: The funeral is held for Nelia Laroza, a 20-year veteran of nursing and a long-time ONA member who contracted SARS from a patient at age 51. ONA members in attendance wear black ribbons in honour of their fallen colleague.
July 31: Hospital funding is announced – a total of $620 million – including a $484-million increase to base funding for hospital operations committed in the 2003 budget and $136 million in new base funding for expanded services at restructured hospitals and for priority programs.
September: Premier Ernie Eves calls a provincial election for October 2.
September 22: President Barb Wahl makes a statement at head office asking the provincial government to detail what has improved since the SARS crisis and warning that Ontario isn’t prepared for a third round.
September 29: ONA presents before the SARS Commission. President Barb Wahl tells Justice Archie Campbell that the government must ensure that adequate health and safety systems are in place and work to protect nurses so they can protect the public. President Wahl also reads from emotional impact statements collected by ONA from nurses directly affected by SARS.
October: The Litigation Pilot Project is fully implemented, making litigation the primary focus for some Labour Relations Officers who, as a result, don’t carry a bargaining unit workload. Certain grievances are accelerated for early intervention and resolution under Section 49 of the Ontario Labour Relations Act, including selection decisions on job vacancies, premiums, scheduling issues, compensation issues and discipline up to discharge. Initial feedback is positive.
The sixth annual televote for the positions of President and Vice-President gets underway.
The federal National Advisory Committee on SARS, chaired by Dr. David Naylor, releases its final report, recommending the creation of a new Canadian Agency for Public Health, new annual investment in public health of $700 million, and a national Network for Communicable Diseases.
Membership research on bargaining objectives and values shows members believe the union is doing a better job in delivering services.
October 2: The Liberals, under Dalton McGuinty, win the provincial election with a majority. The Conservatives drop to 24 seats and the NDP wins only seven seats – a loss of two seats and official party status. When the new cabinet is sworn in, George Smitherman, MPP Toronto Centre-Rosedale, becomes the new Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, and Chris Bentley, MPP London West, the new Minister of Labour.
November: With the televote results in, Linda Haslam-Stroud, Local 75 Coordinator, and Sue Prettejohn, Local 137 Coordinator, are elected ONA President and First Vice-President, respectively.
The PCM agenda is jam-packed. Delegates are treated to a surprise visit from Roy Romanow, receive a greeting from new Minister of Health and Long-Term Care George Smitherman and view the 30th anniversary video. It is a very moving time as members directly affected by the SARS crisis tell their first-hand experiences, and outgoing ONA President Barb Wahl bids farewell. ONA’s much-improved website is officially launched to rave reviews.
December: ONA leaders join members and our partners at the Ontario Health Coalition for a “Betrayal Lunch” at Queen’s Park to protest the Liberal government’s backtracking on a promise to abolish public-private partnership hospitals (P3s). The sit-down meal includes 3-Pea soup and chicken a la Dalton.
ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud is chosen to participate on the health-sector panel for the Ministry of Labour’s new Health and Safety Action Group initiative. The panel will look at reducing workplace injuries, developing policy and promoting safety through education.
Linda Haslam-Stroud, RN is President
January: Frustrated nurses at the Halton Regional Public Health Unit receive a better contract after going public. The 80 members asked (then) President Barb Wahl to write a letter to the editor on their behalf, which led to a front-page story in the Burlington Post, and was reprinted in the Hamilton Spectator and community papers.
ONA files notice of action of a lawsuit against the provincial government arising from ONA members contracting SARS.
February: An ONA media release responds to Premier Dalton McGuinty’s request to unions to show “restraint in negotiations.” President Linda Haslam-Stroud says, “Nurses know it’s more than just about money. It’s about working conditions, staffing levels, scheduling and workloads. These are things that will keep nurses working.”
ONA calls on Minister of Health and Long-Term Care George Smitherman to immediately release the interim report of the SARS Commission to determine if concerns have been addressed.
President Linda Haslam-Stroud and CEO Lesley Bell meet with Health Minister. Issues under discussion are the nursing shortage, long-term care, public and community health, P3s and Bill 8. Minister Smitherman says it’s a four- to six-year challenge to rebuild the profession, and that he believes that nurses are the heart of health care.
At the National Executive Board of the CFNU meeting in Ottawa, ONA is asked to participate on Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) committees. The Board recommends that Andy Summers, Vice-President, Region 3 participate on the Human Rights and Equity committee, and First Vice-President Sue Prettejohn, continue to represent the CFNU on the Political Action Committee.
February 18: A statement of claim for a potential class action suit on SARS is filed to protect time lines and avoid WSIB concerns around coverage. WSIB issues are resolved and ONA goes forward with its original plan to file individual claims rather than proceed by way of class action. A revised statement of claim for individual claims will go forward in March.
March: At the March PCM, members are urged to fight racism in the workplace by documenting everyday incidents.
The Ministry of Labour lays six Occupational Health and Safety Act charges against the North Bay Hospital related to exposure of employees to nitrous oxide in the hospital’s operating rooms, alleging that the facility failed to complete workplace health and safety training to meet standards for ventilation.
Health Minister Smitherman tables amendments to Bill 8, The Commitment to the Future of Medicare Act at Committee, making explicit that trade unions, individual doctors and groups of doctors are not subject to accountability agreements.
Labour Minister Bentley names President Linda Haslam-Stroud to the health-care panel of the Minister's Health and Safety Action Group. The panel will establish priorities to reduce injuries, ensure proper policies are in place, and promote safety through education, training, regulation and enforcement.
Health Minister Smitherman announces funding for 45 new primary care initiatives across the province, bringing together family physicians, nurse practitioners and other front-line health professionals to deliver around-the-clock care; $39.2 million in funding comes from the federal Primary Health Care Transition Fund.
Federal Finance Minister Goodale tables the 2004 federal budget with an additional $2 billion for the provinces and territories for health. The budget creates the new Canada Public Health Agency with $665 million over three years to improve Canada’s readiness to deal with public health emergencies.
March 25: ONA announces the SARS lawsuit at a media conference, noting that it has launched legal action against the Ontario government on behalf of 30 members who contracted SARS and their families. ONA members are given until May 20, 2004 to sign on to the lawsuit.
April: President Linda Haslam-Stroud is one the key speakers at a media conference to kick off a series of forums dealing with key issues in the long-term care sector, coordinated by the Ontario Health Coalition.
ONA extends its “Not Enough Nurses: Your Tax Cuts at Work” campaign with an updated slogan: “Still Not Enough Nurses: Act Now. Patients Can’t Wait.”
A postcard to Health Minister George Smitherman urging him to address the nursing shortage is inserted into the spring issue of Front Lines.
The ONA Board approves a number of changes to the Membership Policy Manual, including a new policy regarding the honouring of picket lines.
April 3: 2,000 union members from across Ontario, including those from ONA, march in Toronto to protest public-private partnership hospitals at a rally organized by the Ontario Health Coalition.
April 21: Health Minister Smitherman releases the interim report from Commissioner Archie Campbell on the SARS outbreak and announces a timetable for a comprehensive action plan on public health renewal. The report recounts how decades of problems and inaction in public health contributed to the SARS crisis. Smitherman says there is more work to be done and a comprehensive action plan for public health is coming in two months. ONA urges the provincial government to act quickly to shore up the province’s public health system as recommended in the SARS Commission interim report.
April 22: Health Minister Smitherman receives and commits to act on the final report from Dr. David Walker and the Expert Panel on SARS and Infectious Disease Control. This report makes recommendations for improving Ontario's public health system based on lessons from the SARS outbreak.
Minister Smitherman announces $25 million to create 400 new full-time nursing positions in Ontario hospitals, including an immediate $25 million to 122 small- and medium-sized public hospitals. This funding goes along with the $25 million invested in large hospitals in February to create full-time nursing positions. As a result, 800 more full-time nursing jobs will be created.
April 26: President Linda Haslam-Stroud participates in a media conference to launch a series of Public Forums on Ontario’s long-term care system. "Nurses and care workers believe Ontario's long-term care system – including nursing homes and home care – is in crisis because of understaffing and underfunding," says Haslam-Stroud. "There is a complete lack of transparency and accountability by the government and by nursing homes.”
At the CCAC Bargaining Strategy Meeting, President Linda Haslam-Stroud welcomes ONA Board members, CCAC Bargaining Unit Presidents and servicing Labour Relations Officers to hear presentations on the current CCAC contract analysis, CCAC-specific cultural research, the OMERS to HOOPP pension transfer, and dispute resolution in the right-to-strike sector. Participants generate proposals on top-tier issues and address coordinated bargaining and strategy for future rounds of bargaining.
April 28: ONA honours the national Day of Mourning for workers who have been killed, injured, or become ill in the workplace. At ONA head office, a plaque is dedicated to nurses and other workers injured or killed on the job. The ONA ceremony draws other unions and community groups as well as Toronto Mayor David Miller, Minister of Health George Smitherman and Labour Minister Bentley. Across the province, ONA members take part in Day of Mourning ceremonies.
April 29-30: The Hospital Central Negotiating Team meets to work on developing proposals and preparing for bargaining. ONA and the OHA will meet May 17-19 for joint interest-based bargaining training for the negotiating teams. A Memorandum of Conditions for Joint Bargaining has been signed.
May: Members of Local 14 join the Canadian Auto Workers in a march at Thunder Bay City Hall to protest the city’s plan to freeze construction of two new municipally run homes for the aged.
At the request of Local 4, ONA issues a media release stating that the reduction of eight full-time-equivalent RNs, who perform case management for the Grey Bruce Community Care Access Centre, will have a severe impact on clients needing in-home care.
North Bay Hospital appears in court to face health and safety charges laid in March, a historic first.
ONA issues a media release welcoming the government plan for reform of the long-term care system and urging speedy implementation.
An ONA media release responds to the provincial budget, saying the Liberal government clearly understands the challenges front-line nurses are facing.
May 10-16: ONA members celebrate and acknowledge the nursing profession during Nursing Week 2004, under the theme “Honouring Nurses. A Team of Dedicated Professionals.” Members hold special events at their work sites, many attended by ONA leaders. ONA speaks to the media about the nursing shortage and the need to improve working conditions for nurses.
May 20: ONA wins a Bill 136 vote to determine union membership at the Cornwall Community Hospital, retaining 160 members and gaining another 161.
June: The first ONA Provincial Coordinators Meeting is held outside of Toronto in Ottawa and is a resounding success. The video from the Day of Mourning event in April is a highlight.
ONA wins the right to represent nurses at six relatively new Leisure World nursing homes in Toronto due to an arbitration decision and welcomes 76 new members. ONA was included in the vote against the SEIU, which had represented all nurses in the homes.
ONA’s Board of Directors lifts the moratorium on organizing within the hospital and long-term care sectors. On a case-by-case basis, the Board will review organizing in other sectors.
The provincial government announces funding for the hiring and mentoring of nursing graduates. In a media release, ONA states this is further evidence of the health minister’s commitment to addressing the nursing shortage and improving working conditions.
ONA responds to the Workplace Safety Insurance Board (WSIB) audit, saying it addresses some of the concerns of Ontario nurses, but fails to delve into the problems of a system designed to help injured workers.
Nursing home employers issue payment for outstanding pay equity payments as a result of the Pay Equity Charter Challenge by ONA and other unions.
July: In the wake of the provincial government’s decision to provide $25 million for the creation of 400 new, full-time nursing jobs at 122 small- and medium-sized hospitals throughout Ontario, ONA tells Bargaining Unit Presidents to meet with employers. “This is an important opportunity for our union to be involved,” notes President Linda Haslam-Stroud. Members are urged to contact their Bargaining Unit President and their local MPP if they suspect dollars for new nurses are being devoted to other purposes.
The Ontario Health Coalition and the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions jointly release a cost analysis of the Brampton public-private partnership hospital showing capital costs for the project have shot up by 53 per cent over initial estimates; private companies want $22 million more to keep negotiations alive.
August: A successful certification vote is held at Central Care Corporation, Roseview Manor, in Thunder Bay. Fourteen RNs are welcomed into ONA.
Health Minister George Smitherman announces a three-point plan for Women’s College Hospital that includes restoring independent governance for Women's College. Women's College will assume a new role as an ambulatory care centre and provincial leader in women's health care, education and research.
September: The ONA Board decides to recommend ONA affiliation to the Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL), to be ratified at the 2004 Biennial Convention.
Public consultations begin on the Liberal government’s plans to end mandatory retirement. ONA opposes any policy that compels workers to remain in their jobs beyond the normal age or ties benefits to an increase in the minimum retirement age. The small minority of nurses interested in working beyond 65 should have the option of doing so.
ONA reissues its censure of the Niagara Health System, Local 26.
Minister of Health George Smitherman announces a government plan to re-organize health-care delivery in Ontario. The initiative features the creation of 14 Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs), as well as a seven-member Health Results Team charged with reducing wait times. President Linda Haslam-Stroud responds that the health-care system has already been restructured to death. On a more positive note, the ONA President welcomes the Minister’s commitment to re-examine the competitive bidding system through which agencies obtain home-care contracts with Community Care Access Centres.
October: Members and supporters of Local 73, Thunder Bay Regional Health Centre, hit the streets to protest the hospital’s new scheduling plan for part-time nurses. Twenty-eight job-share positions are to be eliminated while the master rotation schedule for another 341 part-time nurses is also to be discontinued, according to an announcement by the hospital. Bargaining talks in the hospital sector conclude unsuccessfully, opening the door to mediation/arbitration for 45,000 ONA members.
Nursing home mediation breaks down, leading to arbitration.
November 16: Health Minister George Smitherman launches a public reporting website for long-term care, providing information to seniors and their families about individual homes and their records of care. The government also announces it will introduce new regulations requiring that a registered nurse be on site 24 hours a day, seven days a week in each long-term care home (effective Feb. 1, 2005).
November 22-25: Approximately 1,000 delegates gather in Toronto for what many will later describe as the most successful Biennial Convention ever. The week kicks off with the annual Human Rights and Equity Caucus, proceeds to three days of business and concludes with a series of workshops. Voting delegates carry a resolution to affiliate to the Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) for a period of two years by 77 per cent. On the last business day of the Biennial, ONA launches the Still Not Enough Nurses: Act Now! Patients Can’t Wait, campaign timed to coincide with the end of bargaining in the hospital sector. President Linda Haslam-Stroud tells delegates and the media that little has changed three years after the 2001 initiative of a similar theme, Not Enough Nurses: Your Tax Cuts at Work. Keynote speaker Armine Yalnizyan gives delegates all the details on why public health care beats a private, for-profit system.
November 27: ONA members take part in the OFL’s Keep Your Promises rally at Queen’s Park, organized to remind Premier McGuinty about his commitment to rebuild public services and improve labour legislation. First Vice-President Susan Prettejohn tells the assembly that nurses have long been part of the struggle for public health care and the fight continues.
December: The Vector Poll on Public Opinion in Canada finds that 88 per cent of respondents have very positive feelings toward nurses, ahead of doctors, police officers, teachers and public employees. Some 67 per cent are of the view that paying public-sector workers who make life-and-death decisions more than workers in the private sector is a reasonable policy. Nurses are viewed as the most overworked professional group by 89 per cent of poll participants.
ONA’s Board approves the release of an additional $125,000 from the Security Fund to cover legal fees for the SARS lawsuit involving 30 members who contracted SARS and their families.
ONA endorses the Call for Action: the Time for Pay Equity is Now campaign initiated by the Canadian Labour Congress.
The Board of Directors reissues its censure of the University Health Network.
Linda Haslam-Stroud, RN, is President
January: ONA makes a submission to the pre-budget Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs, stating ONA concerns that government funding for the creation of nursing jobs and other nursing initiatives may not produce the intended results quickly enough to keep up with demographic changes and the demand for nursing services. The government is funding the creation of more nursing jobs and, at the same time, laying off nurses.
Health Minister George Smitherman announces that hospitals will receive a cash infusion of $200 million; $91 million to fund severance packages for 2,000 workers slated to be laid off, 757 of whom are nurses. The rest will help hospitals balance their budgets by March 2006. Layoffs, ONA notes, will impact negatively on patient care, despite government assurances to the contrary.
ONA Local Treasurers gather in Toronto to learn about relevant software applications, hardware, managing and balancing union books.
ONA produces the January 19 issue of the OFL’s Focus on Healthcare and promotes the case for improved front-line patient care by discussing the Still Not Enough Nurses campaign in the document.
The Casa Verde inquest, reviewing the death of two residents at the hands of another resident at a nursing home on Keele Street in June 2001, commences. The inquest is looking into the care of cognitively impaired seniors in Ontario nursing homes. ONA is granted standing despite not representing any of the workers because it “has a substantial and direct interest in the inquest on behalf of its members who work in Long Term Care Facilities in the Province and in Community Access Centres.”
February: Some 60 ONA members from Local 134, Royal Victoria Hospital in Barrie, hold a march and information picket to raise awareness about health-care issues in the community. According to Local 134 Coordinator Tracey Taylor, rallying RNs also want to let government representatives know how critically fragile our health-care system is.
Health Minister George Smitherman isn’t forgotten on Valentine’s Day, as Locals 82 and 6 deliver 300 cards to his office and a reminder not to forget that nurses are the heart of health care, as Premier McGuinty is fond of saying.
A key ruling comes down in favour of ONA at St. Joseph’s Healthcare in Hamilton, where four nurse practitioners are deemed to belong in the bargaining unit and not above the rank of first-level management, as the employer maintained. Professional supervision of RNs is not managerial supervision, and doesn’t justify exclusion from the union.
Nursing home arbitration hearing concludes after three days.
The ONA submission to Elinor Caplan’s CCAC procurement review says the quality of care in Ontario has declined as a result of health-care restructuring over the last three years. Ontario has also experienced an increased privatization of health care, including the proliferation of a competitive bidding process for the provision of home-care services. Further privatized delivery of health care will decrease the quality of care and have a negative impact on the practice environment for nurses, says ONA.
March: After feedback from Local Coordinators, ONA decides to structure the Still Not Enough Nurses Campaign in three phases corresponding to the spring and fall of 2005 and the winter of 2006.
RNs at the Sault Area Hospital in Sault Ste. Marie declare that planned layoffs of 20 professionals at an already-understaffed institution can only worsen patient care. The layoffs are scheduled to occur during Nursing Week 2005.
April: The Casa Verde coroner’s inquest examining the challenges posed by placing cognitively impaired residents in long-term care centres, adopts all 52 of ONA’s recommendations. The inquest concludes that specialized facilities staffed by RNs are required to effectively look after such patients.
Ontario’ Superior Court hears arguments from lawyers representing 53 nurses that health-care workers were not told how to protect themselves from SARS for two weeks after the provincial government provided that information to physicians. ONA accuses Queen’s Park of negligence in managing the outbreak.
Figures released by the WSIB show an increase of more than 60 per cent in physical assaults against Ontario hospital workers over a five-year period.
May: ONA criticizes the conclusions of the Caplan Report on home care, saying that the study’s defense of the competitive bidding process endorses less-than-optimal care for patients and the erosion of rights for RNs employed by not-for-profit agencies like the VON.
Provincial Treasurer Greg Sorbara delivers the budget but fails to adequately respond to the health-care challenge. President Linda Haslam-Stroud criticizes the government’s lack of provision for a sharp increase in nursing positions, saying, “It’s very disappointing. Nurses are graduating at a time when we’re laying them off.” Hospitals respond to their $100-million budgetary increase by saying that up to 4,000 jobs will be cut.
May 9-15: Nursing Week sees President Linda Haslam-Stroud, RN and other leaders visit front-line nurses in communities across the province. The theme for ONA nurses this year is: “Nurses. Trusted, Vital, Professional. United in Caring.”
May 27: Members of ONA Local 51 gather in Oshawa to protest layoffs, bed and clinic closures by Lakeridge Health Corporation. To balance its budget, Lakeridge intends to replace RNs with less-skilled workers.
Members of Local 111 employed at the Scarborough Hospital in Toronto rally to protest layoffs caused by the government’s insistence that hospitals balance their budgets by March 2006.
June: The arbitration award covering some 2,000 registered nurses employed by the province’s nursing homes fails to reflect recommendations on RN safety and wages coming out of the Casa Verde inquest.
Cultural Research, the company that carries out membership studies, summarizes results from a recent human rights and equity project. Members’ priorities are: handling of discrimination and equity issues; helping members with workers compensation/WSIB and long-term disability appeals; involvement in social issues; better occupational health; education of members on union matters; and finally, health-care reform issues.
Federal Health Minister Ujjal Dosanjh announces that he is disappointed that the Canadian Medical Association will debate and possibly endorse a growing role for private medicine at its summer meeting. CMA President Dr. Albert Schumacher argues that the government could make room for some private services without dismantling Medicare.
Members of Local 50, employed in Hamilton’s public-health clinics, ratify a retroactive three-year contract that extends until the end of 2006.
July: The Supreme Court of Canada issues the Chaoulli decision, stating that lengthy delays for surgeries are a violation of Charter rights and opening the door to private insurance as a solution.
August: Health Minister George Smitherman unveils a report on health care in northwestern Ontario, launched as a result of Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre’s policy of limiting access to beds to patients from the immediate area in periods when beds are scarce. The report calls for substantial investments in hospitals in Sioux Lookout and Marathon, new services for cardiac patients in Thunder Bay, and additional long-term care spaces.
August 10: More than 1,000 health-care workers and members of the community rally in front of Sarnia’s city hall to protest announced cuts by Bluewater Health, Local 19. The cuts are liable to cause Lambton County to lose 60,000 hours of nursing care. ONA Region 5 Vice-President Jeanne Soden criticizes Bluewater for its lack of transparency, saying that ONA Bargaining Unit President Pam Gallie can’t get a copy of a peer review report sent by the agency to the government.
September: After a year-and-a-half without a contract, ONA’s approximately 45,000 hospital nurses finally receive a binding arbitration award that President Linda Haslam-Stroud calls “a basis to build on in the future” but inadequate to meeting the chief challenges confronting nurses, such as workload issues, health and safety problems and the provincial nursing shortage. Haslam-Stroud says the deal will neither encourage many new nurses to enter the profession nor convince experienced professionals to remain longer on the job. The arbitrator recognized as much, saying that problems of this sort had to be addressed by government and employers rather than arbitration boards.
ONA launches the next phase of its Still Not Enough Nurses campaign, with advertisements covering bus shelters and billboards in towns and cities around the province.
Prime Minister Paul Martin and provincial-territorial premiers announce, “A 10-Year Plan to Strengthen Health Care” worth $41 billion, most of it without any specific strings attached to how provinces and territories spend the money. The funding includes a $5.5-billion Wait Time Reduction Fund.
ONA members take part in Labour Day events around the province.
September 14: Members of Local 83 at the Ottawa Hospital hold a well-attended Still Not Enough Nurses rally that attracts coverage from most of the major media in the national capital area. At Union Station in Toronto, Region 3 ONA members receive an overwhelmingly positive response while distributing leaflets to commuters on their way to work.
October: ONA Local 4 reaches a settlement with the Grey Bruce Health Unit’s Board of Health two days before members are set to strike, ratifying a three-year contract scheduled to expire in December 2007.
The Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) holds a press conference in Kingston to release its report, Understaffed and Under Pressure, on the state of the province’s health-care system. The OFL argues that health-care workers are exhausted and excessively stressed out.
ONA releases its main Still Not Enough Nurses background document, Patients Matter: The Roots of a Health Care Problem and How to Alleviate It.
A groundbreaking, preliminary arbitration decision concludes that the Eastern Ontario Health Unit qualifies as an arm of government and is subject to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The case involves a grievance against the employer’s policy of staff immunization against influenza. The arbitration will proceed to consider whether the policy violates Section 7 of the Charter.
October 7: Toronto Public Health announces that Legionnaires’ disease is the culprit in the previously unexplained deaths of residents in Toronto’s Seven Oaks Home for the Aged. SARS and Avian Flu had been ruled out, but the city remained nervous as the death toll climbed.
November: Televote results show that Vicki McKenna has been elected as First Vice-President. Linda Haslam-Stroud is acclaimed President.
ONA renews its censure of Bluewater Health, Local 19, in Sarnia.
Ontarians are shocked and saddened by the murder of Local 8 member Lori Dupont at Hôtel Dieu Grace Hospital in Windsor by anesthesiologist Marc Daniel.
A key rights arbitration award is issued that should serve to enhance ONA’s argument against the growing practice of replacing RNs with less-skilled workers. In a decision against the Scarborough Hospital, the arbitrator applied Article 10.12 (a) of the collective agreement to determine that in one unit in the facility, where acuity is high and patients unpredictable, a decision to substitute RNs with registered practical nurses would not maintain “quality patient care.” This is the first significant decision on the meaning of Article 10.12 (a).
November 9-10: ONA’s PCM is held at the Royal York Hotel in Toronto. Guest speakers are Linda O’Brien-Pallas, an expert on Ontario’s nursing demographic, and journalist Michael Enright. Enright tells nurses to “hold the government’s feet to the fire” with the Still Not Enough Nurses campaign. Linda Haslam-Stroud is returned as President and Vicki McKenna is elected as First Vice-President.
November 21-25: ONA’s delegation makes a splash at the union’s first-ever Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) convention in Toronto. OFL President Wayne Samuelson makes health care – and defence of a publicly administered system – front and centre in the convention’s policy discussions. Conversations between President Linda Haslam-Stroud and other union leaders spark the birth of a four-union coalition, involving the CUPE, OPSEU and the SEIU (Local 1 Ontario) determined to ensure that the Ontario government’s Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs) initiative doesn’t lead to more privatization, the loss of union jobs and the deterioration of health care.
November 28: Demonstrations and vigils take place as ONA and other organizations mourn the tragic loss of friend and colleague Lori Dupont and to demand improved measures from the government and employers to protect women from violence and harassment – on the job and off.
December: Staff and political leaders from the four-union coalition of CUPE, OPSEU, SEIU and ONA, meet in downtown Toronto to plot a response to the government’s LHINs legislation. Participants suggest collaboration on a range of issues, including organizing non-unionized workplaces, bargaining, pension matters and a communications plan to publicize their criticisms of the LHIN initiative. Later in the month, ONA holds a special meeting of regional leaders to discuss the campaign and its objective of amending Bill 36 to block further privatization, ensure the protection of local health services and defend union jobs.
Local 13 Bargaining Unit President Ann Kennealy criticizes the government for choosing to privately finance the capital construction project at Sudbury Regional Hospital. “Alternative financing and procurement is just another expression for privatization,” she says.
ONA members mark December 6th as a national day of remembrance and day of action on violence against women. The event is particularly poignant as members in Windsor remember Lori Dupont, RN, who was stabbed to death in November while working in the recovery room of Hotel-Dieu Grace Hospital. President Linda Haslam-Stroud’s opinion editorial about violence against women – and particularly against nurses – is published in the Toronto Star.
Linda Haslam-Stroud, RN, is President
January: The LHINs campaign unfolds with 17 regional mobilization meetings across the province. Health-care workers hear an analysis of the government initiative, ask questions, state their views and plan joint actions. First Vice-President Vicki McKenna is ONA lead. ONA organizes meetings in Windsor and Ottawa.
The provincial government announces a $40-million fund to provide RNs and RPNs with opportunities to expand their knowledge and training to work in other clinical areas or nursing roles within their hospital. Hospitals will be reimbursed for costs incurred for up to six months of orientation, training and education that increases clinical skills and expertise of nurses. ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says, “This is a concrete step that will assist in providing quality care for our patients during Ontario’s nursing shortage."
Orientation for the Hospital Central Negotiating Team takes place.
The Superior Court Justice adjourns ONA’s SARS lawsuit against the provincial government crisis, citing two other cases which she views as potentially similar, pending before the court of appeal. ONA’s SARS case can resume when those have been heard.
January 23: The Conservative Party under Stephen Harper wins the federal election and appoints former Ontario Tory Cabinet Minister Tony Clement, a keen advocate of private-sector involvement in health care, as Minister of Health. Canadian Federation of Nurses’ Unions President Linda Silas comments that nurses “do not believe the solution to [long wait times and other systemic woes] is a privately delivered system.”
February: Local 35 Bargaining Unit President Greg Walden responds forcefully to an announcement by Chatham-Kent’s department of social services that it will eliminate seven RN positions at Riverview Gardens Home for the Aged. In a letter to the Chatham Daily News, Walden expresses doubt that the six full-time and three part-time RNs remaining in the facility will be able to guarantee top-quality care to the centre’s 320 residents.
Provincial direction from the Long-Term Care Non-Institutional Sector Project Team with respect to CCAC bargaining is circulated, asking CCACs whose Collective Agreements expire during 2006 to expedite bargaining and focus on key issues only. LHINs legislation will essentially suspend collective bargaining for at least one calendar year.
Staff from OPSEU, SEIU and ONA meet with the government to discuss how they define workplace violence and what the employer’s responsibility is under the Occupational Health & Safety Act to protect workers from all forms of violence.
February 14: Workplace protests against the Ontario government’s LHINs legislation take place all over the province as members of the four health unions call on Ontarians to “Protect the Heart of Health Care.”
ONA issues an invitation to female members from designated groups to participate in a Leadership Development Program scheduled for the fall of 2006. The program is to be an intensive, five-day session designed to help cultivate new leaders who reflect diverse grassroots members.
March: March is the deadline for Ontario’s hospitals to balance their budgets – even if it requires staff layoffs. London Health Sciences Centre, Local 100, announces that 120 positions, nursing jobs among them, are to be eliminated.
Kingston General Hospital, Local 99, finds itself in its sixth “bed crisis” in two years, with 55 patients awaiting transfer to a long-term care facility in a region with 400 people in total on a waiting list to get into a home.
The Windsor Star takes Bill Marra, chair of the Board at Hotel Dieu Grace, Local 8 in Windsor, to task for not supporting ONA’s call for an inquest into the death of ONA member Lori Dupont in November 2005, and calls on the province to proceed with an inquest. ONA continues to wage a media and behind-the-scenes campaign calling for the inquest.
March 28: Bill 36, the Local Health System Integration Act, receives Royal Assent.
March 29-30: ONA’s PCM is held at the Delta Chelsea in Toronto.
April: The Ontario Long-Term Care Association tells the government that residents of nursing homes need at least 20 additional minutes of personal care on a daily basis, saying this will cost more than $300 million between now and 2008. Long-term care facilities in Ontario, according to the employer association, claim to provide an average of 2.25 hours of daily care to residents.
A British report reveals that privately financed hospitals in that country are failing to deliver proper cleaning, catering and other ancillary services.
ONA mourns the passing of first and founding provincial President Jean Lowery, an activist who “worked tirelessly to make things better for RNs.” Lowery participated in the founding meeting of ONA in 1973. She served as ONA President 1973-75, and as Director of Human resources for ONA from 1981 until her retirement in March 1991. Lowery was awarded an honorary membership in ONA in December 1991.
April 5: ONA ends a dramatic organizing drive with a winning OLRB vote at York Central Hospital in Richmond Hill. ONA retention and recruitment staff began working with a core group of union supporters in the facility in 2005. ONA’s Public Relations Team produced 12 bulletins of facts and arguments and staff members made presentations on professional practice and collective bargaining at a series of evening sessions in the Richmond Hill library. The new Local 237 has 673 new full-time and part-time RNs. Other organizing victories include Highbourne Lifecare Centre (24 members) and Tall Pines long-term facility (18 members).
May: The provincial government marks Nursing Week by announcing that all nursing graduates in 2007 will be guaranteed a full-time job opportunity. ONA responds that while this is an excellent policy, it is important that in offering these jobs, Ontario employers respect collective agreements and offer available full-time posts to working part-time nurses who want them. The Nursing Week theme is “Our Nurses. Respected, Vital professionals. Caring for you.”
May 1: Members of Region 3, ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud, CEO Lesley Bell and staff push a gurney loaded with more than 8,000 Still Not Enough Nurses postcards up University Avenue’s hospital row to Queen’s Park, delivering them to the care of NDP health critic Shelley Martel. She presents them to Health Minister George Smitherman in the Legislature.
Nurses at St. Thomas-Elgin General Hospital, Local 36, deliver a similar message with their own information picket. Bargaining Unit President Trudy Frank-MacEwan says that rather than addressing the nursing shortage at her hospital, government balance-the-budget policies will eliminate 14 nursing positions (13 of them full-time) at St. Thomas-Elgin in August.
May 2: Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s first budget is tabled with no new money added to the 10-year plan. The $20-billion dollar Canada Health Transfer (CHT) will rise $1.1 billion this year by virtue of a six-per-cent annual escalator that took effect April 1. The federal government urges the provinces and territories to ensure health reforms, spelled out in the 10-year plan, are achieved and that health-care spending is managed efficiently. The timeline for provinces to set wait-time reduction targets for priority procedures is moved to the end of 2006.
May 29: The OHA tells ONA’s Central Hospital Negotiating Team that it has “no appetite” for continuing bargaining a new contract if the union is unwilling to accept cuts to long- and short-term disability benefits, a proposal ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud describes as “draconian.” An ONA media release about the breakdown in negotiations receive wide-spread coverage.
June: ONA urges its hospital members to contact the Ministry of Health, the Premier and heads of hospitals to urge a withdrawal of the OHA’s demands that nurses’ sick benefits be gutted. Reducing benefits is no way to convince late-career nurses to keep working or to draw young people into the profession, says ONA.
The closure of Brockville Psychiatric Hospital (BPH), Local 74, is off the table. ONA member Shelby Linseman says workers at the facility are relieved “but cautious too,” adding that the area definitely needs the BPH’s services.
An arbitrator decides that in the case of an ONA bargaining unit participating in central hospital negotiations - Four Counties Health Services - RPNs with 25 years’ experience forming part of the bargaining unit are also entitled to the extra salary grid and the two per cent additional compensation awarded in September 2005. The arbitrator says that the Keller-chaired interest Board applied the retention and recruitment incentive to “employees,” intending both categories of nurses to be taken into account and noted that when the Keller Board wanted to distinguish between the two classes, it employed the terms RN and RPN.
June 8-9: At ONA’s exciting and successful PCM in Thunder Bay, members from across the province discuss a busy year of campaigns (Still Not Enough Nurses and Local Health Integration Networks), bargaining and successful organizing campaigns, highlighted by the representation vote at York Central Hospital. ONA’s Health and Safety Specialist does an introduction on violence affecting ONA members, including the death of member Lori Dupont, and a health and safety workshop with the focus on violence and a presentation follows. A province-wide violence initiative will roll out in the fall.
August: Members of Local 81, Lake-of-the-Woods District Hospital, make public their concerns about the hospital’s short-sighted recovery plan for its sizeable deficit.
Interest arbitration hearings take place in hospital-sector bargaining.
September: ONA President Linda Haslam Stroud responds critically to the report of Hotel-Dieu Grace Hospital’s internal investigation into the murder of Lori Dupont, calling on the coroner to “bring to light the true scope of events.”
A draft provincial report sets out guidelines for establishing Health Professionals Advisory Committees (HPACs) within Ontario’s 14 LHINs. ONA meets with ministry officials to that ensure nurses, including ONA Local leaders, will have a strong voice on the HPACs.
Local 83 members conduct an information picket calling attention to layoffs and understaffing at Ottawa Hospital’s Civic Campus.
November 14: ONA’s Nursing Homes Central Negotiating Team outlines the tentative agreement to Local leaders. The agreement is later ratified with 97-per-cent support.
November 16: The Safe Needles campaign takes centre stage as ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud presents 1,500 postcards calling for a law mandating the use of safety-engineered needles at Queen’s Park. ONA joined SEIU and OPSEU to support MPP Shelley Martel’s private member’s bill on the issue.
November 21- 23: ONA’s Biennial Convention at the Fairmont Royal York Hotel in Toronto adopts new vision and mission statements. Former UN Special Envoy on AIDS/HIV in Africa, Stephen Lewis tells the convention that, “Nurses should have the strongest possible voice” in LHINs management. Answering a question from the floor, Health Minister George Smitherman appears to open the door to the possibility of ONA negotiating directly with the province in central hospital bargaining, rather than with the OHA. Convention passes motions to eliminate the limit on the number of years that members can sit on the Board and to continue to affiliate with the Ontario Federation of Labour. Six new ONA DVDs are unveiled and Local executive members are honoured at a special luncheon. The new ONA website is officially launched.
December: The year ends with ONA waiting for the arbitration award in the hospital sector.
The National Survey of the Work and Health of Nurses is released and finds that two-thirds of nurses say they have too much work for one person to do. One-third surveyed say they work too much overtime, nearly half unpaid. Rates of violence were also up, according to the report and 11 per cent say they suffered a workplace injury in the last year.
Linda Haslam-Stroud, RN is President
January: The final report of the Independent SARS Commission demonstrates a clear understanding of the critical issues faced by nurses during the outbreak. ONA members figure prominently throughout the report, and Justice Archie Campbell praises the role of RNs, their bravery, and calls them the heroes of the crisis. The report recommends dozens of changes to hospital practices, disease surveillance and provincial and public health and emergency legislation. Most significantly, the report calls for the use of the precautionary principle – or erring on the side of caution – when there is uncertainty about the transmission of a disease.
The OHA dismisses the call for the precautionary principle to be used – ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud rebuts the OHA position in a series of letters to the editor and opinion editorials.
ONA holds its annual Treasurers Workshop with Local Treasurers from across the province. Attendees learn about financial issues, receive training on applicable accounting programs and connect with others. New Local Coordinators receive an orientation on how to effectively manage fiscal issues in accordance with ONA’s policies and Constitution.
ONA tells the Standing Committee on Long-Term Care that the government must include minimum staffing levels and improve whistle-blower protection in its amendments to Bill 140, The Long-Term Care Act.
February: ONA tells a roundtable discussing the 2007 Ontario budget that significant investments must be made in nursing, with strict accountability conditions attached in order to improve the health care of Ontarians.
ONA launches E-News, a new electronic newsletter that is e-mailed to all interested members who sign up. The newsletter is designed to provide a quick update on breaking news of interest to ONA members.
The minus-30-degree temperatures don’t stop ONA members from joining the Ontario Health Coalition rally for public health care outside the First Minister’s meeting in Toronto.
ONA reaches a settlement with North Bay General Hospital which addresses many health and safety grievances filed in the spring of 2003. The grievances were filed following the discovery of problems with the installation of new anesthetic gas machines at the hospital’s Scollard site.
ONA members join other activists to protest outside Humber River Regional Hospital when the hospital appeals a Ministry of Labour order to provide safety-engineered medical devices to staff. More than 100 needlestick injuries have occurred at the hospital in three years.
March: The Albertyn Award is announced for almost 50,000 hospital nurses, giving them wage increases and other improvements over a two-year contract. ONA says that although Ontario nurses will maintain the highest maximum wage rate in Canada, the overall total compensation package lags behind Alberta’s and doesn’t go far enough to address the serious issues facing Ontario RNs.
Attendees of ONA’s March PCM in Toronto get a special private, guided tour of a new exhibit, “A Century of Women and Work.” The exhibit, at Toronto’s City Hall, is launched by the Ontario Federation of Labour and the Workers Arts and Heritage Centre to highlight women’s determination to effect change through the decades. Toronto Mayor David Miller interrupts city budget discussions to greet ONA members and praise the work of nurses.
Stemming from a 2006 Biennial Convention motion, ONA begins holding pandemic planning workshops as part of the spring Area Coordinators Conferences.
After failing to reach a negotiated agreement, ONA’s Eastern Ontario Homes for the Aged Negotiating Team and participating homes proceed to arbitration.
Professional staff at the South West Community Care Access Centre – in the first Public Sector Labour Relations Transition Act representation vote – overwhelming vote for ONA. The votes are necessary because of the realignment of CCACs under the 14 new Local Health Integration Networks.
ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud is chosen as a Canadian delegate to join leaders from 35 Commonwealth countries to participle in the Commonwealth Study Conference. The group examines the human aspects of industrial issues in Commonwealth nations, pools their experience and studies views and options. India is the host country for the study.
A new study shows that Canadians have become more reliant on home care, but funding isn’t keeping up with need. Spending on home care has more than doubled since 1995, but increases haven’t kept up with inflation and demand has risen as population growth has accelerated.
April: ONA wins the second Public Sector Labour Relations Transition Act vote, this time at the Hamilton Niagara Haldimand Brant Community Care Access Centre.
ONA leaders and staff attend a somber Day of Mourning ceremony in Toronto to commemorate workers who have been injured or killed on the job. Members across the province participate in local ceremonies marking the occasion and remember Lori Dupont, RN, the nurse murdered at Hotel-Dieu Grace Hospital in Windsor.
ONA’s highly successful ‘Still Not Enough Nurses’ campaign shifts its focus to the Local level.
ONA members join 3,000 concerned Sarnia citizens to protest the management and governance of Bluewater Health, Local 19. It has come under heavy criticism for its cost-cutting measures and ONA has censured the hospital for more than five years.
The provincial government introduces amendments to Bill 171, The Health Systems Improvement Act, 2006 which address concerns raised by ONA, including adding the precautionary principle to the Health Protection and Promotion Act. The bill also adds some protection to posting personal health information of regulated health professionals on relevant College websites.
Justice Archie Campbell passes away, and ONA expresses deep sadness at losing such a strong champion of nurses.
Negotiations break down between the Halton Region Public Health Unit and ONA. The two remain apart regarding wages, hours of work and equitable benefits packages for permanent, part-time nurses.
May: ONA leaders, members and staff, carrying six-foot, blood-tipped “needles,” converge on Queen’s Park to send the message that safe needles save lives. The May Day rally is organized by Region 3 and includes ONA allies, staff and help from the needlestick alliance. The event attracts a great deal of media attention.
Members across the province and the ONA Board acknowledge and celebrate the profession during Nursing Week 2007. The Nursing Week theme is “Our Nurses. Respected, Vital Professionals. Caring for You.”
ONA experiences a triumph when a Coroner’s Jury Inquest is called into the murder of member Lori Dupont, RN and ONA is one of six parties granted standing. The inquest begins in September 2007 – ONA has been advocating for the inquest since shortly after the incident.
ONA’s article, “Pandemic Flu Preparedness: The Nurses’ Perspective,” is the cover story of the Ontario Federation of Labour’s Focus on Health Care publication.
Thanks to the involvement of ONA Locals and bargaining units, ONA is listed on the United Way of Greater Toronto’s Union Honour Roll.
ONA encourages non-bona fide members to sign membership cards. Only bona fide members can attend ONA meetings (other than strike/ratification meetings) and receive ONA publications. Several hundred non-bona fide members sign up as a result.
June: North Bay General Hospital is convicted and fined $25,000 for its failure to deal with improperly installed and malfunctioning anesthetic gas equipment that led to a nitrous oxide leak. ONA calls this a wake-up call for improved occupational health and safety practices in all Ontario hospitals.
ONA has two more successful Public Sector Labour Relations Transition Act votes – at the Central and Central East CCACs.
ONA continues meeting with the OHA over a series of implementation issues arising from the Albertyn Arbitration Award.
Niagara Falls is the site of ONA’s June PCM. During the meeting, members take time to travel to the St. Catharines’ site of the Niagara Health System and hold a successful rally to protest serious ongoing workload issues. The ONA Board agrees to Local 26’s request to reissue the censure against the NHS.
The Independent Assessment Committee issues 19 recommendations for Grand River Hospital Corporation in Kitchener-Waterloo (Local 19). The hospital’s surgical unit is the target of the recommendations – ONA meets with the IAC to discuss the recommendations, which focus on improving staffing, resource supports and communications.
About 134 ONA members attend the Canadian Federation of Nurses’ Unions biennial conference in St. John’s, Newfoundland. At the convention, ONA’s resolution calling on the CFNU to support the precautionary principle is overwhelmingly passed. ONA’s position statement, “Racism and Racial Discrimination in the Workplace,” is also endorsed.
ONA leaders and staff carry ONA’s rainbow flag in the Toronto Gay Pride Parade as part of the union’s commitment to human rights and equity.
July: ONA mourns the loss of Lois Fairley, RN. Fairley served as ONA President from 1977 to 1978.
August: Years of lobbying finally pay off as the provincial government announces that the use of safety-engineered needles will become mandatory, and that the government will stockpile N-95 respirators for health-care workers’ use in the event of a flu pandemic.
ONA calls on the Ministry of Labour to investigate a violent physical attack on three RNs at Windsor’s Hotel-Dieu Grace Hospital. ONA believes under-staffing and lax security measures put the nurses at risk.
September: After eight years, ONA’s Board lifts its censure against University Health Network in Toronto.
October: The first issue of the new Front Lines publication is launched. The publication is a merger of ONA Vision magazine and the former Front Lines newsletter.
ONA members are the first to voice their concerns about a controversial new chewing gum commercial that negatively depicts nurses. The ad is removed from the airwaves soon afterward.
November: ONA’s November PCM is held in Toronto. During the meeting, members rally outside Humber River Regional Hospital, protesting poor labour relations practices. The media provide widespread coverage. President Linda Haslam-Stroud is elected for a third term as ONA President. First Vice-President Vicki McKenna is acclaimed for a second term.
ONA attends the OFL conference in Toronto and makes a splash, with a number of members attending, and participation in a rally. Also during the OFL conference, ONA holds a media conference to demand immediate legislation to protect nurses from workplace violence. The call comes as three nurses at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health suffer injuries – some severe – at the hands of a patient. The media conference attracts widespread coverage from television, radio and print journalists.
ONA’s inaugural Leadership Development Program participants wrap up the program, with the group noting they are already using the new leadership skills they’ve developed in the program. The goal of the program is to increase leadership representation from under-represented groups.
December: The Coroner’s Jury investigating the death of Lori Dupont, RN returns with 26 recommendations on December 11. The recommendations are aimed at preventing similar incidents in the future. ONA is very pleased with the recommendations, which address our concerns. They include a review of Ontario’s Public Hospitals Act and Occupational Health and Safety Act with a view to including emotional or psychological harm as a workplace safety issue.
The ONA Board issues a position statement on hallway nursing/overcapacity. ONA urges the Ontario government to take action to eliminate overcapacity protocols that result in hallway nursing.
Linda Haslam-Stroud, RN is President
January: ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud attends a “Save our Home Care” rally in Hamilton with about 1,500 community members, ONA members and other unions. The rally is the latest in a series of media and grass-roots events to protest the use of the competitive bidding process for home-care providers that has resulted in long-time providers losing their contracts.
One week after the rally, the Ministry of Health announces it has halted the competitive bidding process for home-care services and will again review the process.
February: ONA hospital-sector Bargaining Unit Presidents review a tentative deal reached with the OHA. The agreement – ratified overwhelmingly in March – includes salary increases of 3.25, 3 and 3 per cent, plus lump sum payments of up to $3,250 per member. It also includes vacation, benefit and premium improvements, a new premium for student supervision, contract language regarding improving workplace safety, commitments to address violence in the workplace and dental benefits for retirees.
ONA’s Human Rights and Equity Team recommendations for an Equity Caucus education session are endorsed by the Board. They are: the duty to accommodate, focusing on mental illness and addictions, and how to accommodate an individual within their restrictions.
ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud joins BC Nurses Union members to participate in a panel discussion on “Nurses Fighting Public Health Care.” She speaks about the efforts in Hamilton to halt the competitive bidding process for home-care providers, and joins BCNU members in a march to protest long-term care conditions.
March: The provincial government announces an increase in spending of $500 million over the next three years to hire 9,000 more nurses, 2,000 being designated for long-term care during the next four years. ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says the main concern is the lack of specific details about how and when the money will be released, and the challenge of finding 9,000 more nurses.
ONA mourns the loss of Monica Leslie, RN at the age of 71. Leslie was a dedicated nurse and union leader and served as Provincial President of ONA.
ONA leaders from across the province attend the March PCM in Toronto. They hear from OFL President Wayne Samelson, Chief Nursing Officer Vanessa Burkoski and attend an education session on how to hold “meticulous” meetings.
ONA declares that emergency room overcrowding – and hallway nursing – is the biggest issue facing hospital-sector RNs. Haslam-Stroud tells the media that ER overcrowding is having a domino effect throughout the health-care system. Ontario has a shortage of long-term care beds, and not enough nurses working in the community to provide the necessary home care.
Health Minister George Smitherman announces the appointment of the founding president and CEO of the new Ontario Agency for Health Protection and Promotion, and that the new agency will be named the Sheela Basrur Centre in honour of the former Ontario Chief Medical Officer of Health. Dr. Basrur – whom many consider the heroine of SARS – is suffering from cancer.
ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud speaks to a group of community members in Toronto about challenges to home care.
April: ONA leaders and Local 24 members hit the media with news that Rouge Valley Health System will lay off 72 nurses to eliminate a large budget deficit. ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud writes an impassioned opinion editorial published by the Toronto Sun that ties the issues of workplace violence and nursing lay offs together. Local 24 Bargaining Unit President Carol Oates appears on a number of television newscasts to discuss the impact on patient care.
On April 28, ONA members across the province mark the 2008 Day of Mourning. They remember ONA members Tecla Lin and Nelia Laroza who died during the SARS outbreak, and Lori Dupont. ONA leaders join a Toronto service of remembrance.
May: ONA leaders and members join other unions for a May Day rally at Queen’s Park. Carrying signs reading, “Workplace Violence: Not Part of the Job!” participants urge the Ministry of Labour to treat workplace violence like any other hazard and demand that employers take every precaution reasonable to protect workers’ health and safety in the health-care setting.
ONA leaders visit dozens of workplaces and meet hundreds of members during Nursing Week 2008. Members also receive a video greeting from Linda Haslam-Stroud. Media interest is high as President Linda Haslam-Stroud travels the province, and there is extensive coverage of the nursing shortage and worsening conditions.
ONA Local leaders and members attend the Canadian Labour Congress convention to discuss ways of improving the quality of life of workers and their families. ONA members participate in a rally and mass leafleting in support of the campaign for women’s economic equality.
June: ONA holds its June PCM in Ottawa. Region 2 hosts members, who are welcomed by the Mayor of Ottawa, hear reports on governance and operations, bargaining updates, organizing, local elections and our ongoing fight against RN lay offs. Members remember Dr. Sheela Basrur, who passes away from a rare form of cancer.
A new report is issued by the Canadian Nurses Association that confirms what ONA has been saying: there aren’t enough nurses graduating to replace all the RNs who are about to retire. In 2007, 9,447 RN graduates were eligible for registration but that is far short of the 12,000 RNs needed to keep up with demand. Canada is graduating far fewer nurses than it did 30 years ago, despite a 39-per-cent increase in population.
ONA expressed disappointment in the Sharkey report on long-term care. The report fails to recommend a regulation requiring a minimum standard of care for residents, something the provincial government has been promising for years. ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud notes that none of the thousands of new nursing positions in long-term care announced by the provincial government are RN positions, and says seniors need the skills and experience of RNs on their care teams.
ONA 1st Vice-President Vicki McKenna joins the Governor-General’s Study Conference as it embarks on a weeks-long tour of Canada’s north.
July: ONA First Vice-President Vicki McKenna joins CUPE, SEIU and OPSEU leaders at Queen’s Park media conference calling for immediate improvements to long-term care. A new report fails to recommend a minimum standard of nursing and personal care regulation in long-term care residents. McKenna notes that the voluntary guidelines called for in the report “won’t improve the quality of care for our seniors. The increasing care needs means they require the experience and skills of an RN on their care team.”
ONA agrees to enter into a joint mediation process with the provincial government in an effort to settle the class action lawsuit on behalf of CCAC members. The suit was launched to redress the government’s failure to live up to its promise to ensure members’ full pensionable service to the Hospitals of Ontario Pension Plan.
ONA and Hotel-Dieu Grace Hospital resolve a long-standing grievance filed following the workplace murder of Lori Dupont, RN. The hospital agrees to implement all the recommendations of the Coroner’s Jury that are within its legal ability, commits to a violence- and harassment-free workplace, and will hire a full-time Safe Workplace Advocate.
ONA informs the media that Toronto East General Hospital is cutting 26 RN positions – the beginning of a series of media-relations efforts to inform the public about ongoing nursing cuts across the province.
August: RN positions being cut continues and ONA continues with its media releases. The Nursing Secretariat asks ONA to keep it informed of layoffs. In July and August, cuts are made to RN positions in Toronto, Hamilton, Hagersville, Leamington and Sturgeon Falls as hospitals grapple with budget deficits.
September: ONA members participate in a mass protest organized by the Ontario Health Coalition in support of public health care. “Listen Up, McGuinty!” is the theme as participants urge the Premier to stop the cuts to hospital services and public-private partnerships, rid the province of competitive bidding for home-care services permanently, regulate a minimum care standard in long-term care and put an end to privatization and two-tier medicine.
October: The Ministry of Labour’s 30-day consultation period begins – it will examine whether there is a need to amend the Occupational Health and Safety Act with a view to including violence as a workplace hazard. ONA provides input, as do a number of other health-care-related unions.
November: ONA members gather at the Royal York Hotel in Toronto to celebrate ONA’s 35th anniversary at the 2008 Biennial Convention. The theme: A Proud Past. A Powerful Future.