Unions and the Ontario Nurses’ Association
- What are the differences among ONA, RNAO and the CNO?
- Why join a union?
- How are collective agreements negotiated?
- What types of collective bargaining does ONA use?
- Do nurses have the right to strike in Ontario?
- Where can I get copies of ONA’s collective agreements?
- What is ONA’s name in French?
- I am a RN working in Ontario. I would like my work unit to be represented by ONA. How do I do that?
- I am a member of the Ontario Nurses’ Association and I will be retiring in the near future. Can I maintain my ONA membership in retirement?
Nursing in Ontario
- The State of Nursing in Ontario
- What legislation outlines the responsibilities of a nurse in Ontario? Where can I find more information about this legislation?
- I am a Canadian nurse outside of Ontario who is interested in coming to Ontario. Where can I get more information?
- I am a nurse outside of Canada. I would like to come to Canada as a nurse. Where can I get more information?
- Where can I find nursing jobs in Ontario?
- Salary issues - how do the different sectors compare?
- How do salaries compare based on expertise and education versus seniority?
- How do union salaries compare to non-union salaries?
- How do the salaries of nurses in Ontario compare with those in other provinces?
- What bursary awards are available for graduating high school students?
- Which schools in Ontario offer a BScN degree?
The Ontario Nurses’ Association is the union representing 60,000 registered nurses, nurse practitioners, registered practical nurses and allied health professionals, and more than 14,000 nursing students working in Ontario hospitals, long-term care, community health, public health, clinics and industry.
The Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario (RNAO) is the professional association representing 41,500 registered nurses (RNs), nurse practitioners (NPs) and nursing students in Ontario. Since 1925, RNAO has lobbied for healthy public policy, promoted excellence in nursing practice, increased nurses’ contribution to shaping the health-care system, and influenced decisions that affect nurses and the public they serve.
The College of Nurses of Ontario (CNO) is the governing body for the 150,000 registered nurses (RNs), registered practical nurses (RPNs) and nurse practitioners (NPs) in Ontario. The College sets requirements to enter the profession, establishes and enforces standards of nursing practice, and assures the quality of practice of the profession and the continuing competence of nurses.
Unionized jobs provide employees with protection in the workplace and it provides the employer with a central bargaining agent . Union employees can expect premium wages and benefits (such as a pension plan, medical plan and extended health and dental plans), as well as more vacation time and paid statutory holidays than their non-union counterparts. Unions work hard to ensure employers offer optimal health and safety protection for their employees.
There are two scenarios for the start of collective bargaining. The first occurs when a trade union has just been certified and has given the employer written notice of its desire to bargain. The second occurs when an employer and a union already has a collective agreement in place. In this case, either party may give notice to bargain within the 90 days before the agreement is due to expire, or during any other time period specifically set out in the agreement. In both cases, the union and the employer must meet within 15 days from giving notice, unless they agree to some other time period.
If, during negotiations, the employer and the union cannot agree on the terms of a collective agreement, either party may ask the Minister of Labour to appoint a conciliation officer. This officer will then try to help them reach an agreement. For more information on collective bargaining, see the Ontario Ministry of Labour website and the Labour Relations Act, 1995.
There are two types of collective bargaining:
- Positional Bargaining (or Adversarial Bargaining or Distributive Bargaining)
- Principled Bargaining (or Integrative Bargaining or Mutual Gains Bargaining or IBB)
ONA uses a combination of both the positional and principled bargaining processes outlined in Question 3. In the hospital sector and with the assistance of a facilitator, ONA has successfully used principled bargaining methodology in two rounds of central bargaining. However, when the issues to be resolved were reduced to the monetary package, the parties reverted to positional bargaining. Studies have shown that it is normal to revert to distributive bargaining when money remains in dispute as the bargaining process is built on an adversarial system.
Hospital nurses in Ontario do not have the right to strike as they are covered under the Hospital Labour Disputes Arbitration Act. Bargaining disputes are settled through the conciliation, mediation and arbitration process. Arbitrations are final and binding. Public health nurses do have the right to strike.
Hospitals ONA's latest signed central hospital collective agreement is available here. The term of the contract is April 1, 2014 to March 31, 2016.
Nursing Homes ONA's latest central nursing home collective agreement (expired on June 30, 2016) is available here.
All other valid ONA collective agreements are also available on our website by sector:
Association des infirmières et infirmiers de l’Ontario.
ONA's main objective is to organize registered nurses (RNs). All registered or graduate nurses and certain allied professionals, including registered practical nurses, who are eligible to engage in collective bargaining are eligible for membership.
If your work unit is already organized under a different union, you should be aware that ONA has a "no-raiding" policy. We will not assist you in decertifying your current union. If you are considering decertification, ONA suggests that you contact the Ontario Labour Relations Board (OLRB) for information.
If your work unit is currently not unionized, and a group of employees are interested in union representation, a union representative will meet and discuss the process with the group. If at least 40 per cent of the employees sign a union membership card, the union can submit an application for certification to the Ontario Labour Relations Board. The OLRB then conducts a secret ballot vote at the work site one week later. The union is successful if 50 per cent plus one of the employees who cast a ballot vote in favour of the union. The union then becomes certified to represent the employee group.
If you are an RN who works at an non-unionized facility and would like more information, you can contact Steven Peters at 1-800-387-5580, press 5 and ext. 2304.
ONA offers a retiree membership to past members over the age of 55 who have retired from their employer. The annual fee for a retiree membership is $25 and the application form for Retired Membership is available to be downloaded as a PDF file.
RNs Employed in Nursing in Ontario
For Ontario statistics, please visit the College of Nurses of Ontario website for the most up-to-date information.
A Canadian Nurses Association report shows that if the health needs of Canadians continue to change according to past trends, and if no policy interventions are implemented, Canada will be short almost 60,000 full-time equivalent RNs by 2022.
The Health of the RN Workforce
- Over the course of a year, more than 16 million nursing hours are lost due to injury and illness - the equivalent of almost 9,000 full-time nursing positions. View the most recent overtime and injury rates for RNs (Source: CFNU)
- Health Care is Still Dangerous Work - see the latest information here.
- There is ample evidence that workload, overtime and absenteeism are inextricably linked with each other and with patient outcomes. A decade of research has established that there is a direct correlation between the ratio of nurses to patients and the health outcomes of those patients.
- For example, a 2002 study by Needleman in the New England Journal of Medicine confirms that there is a direct link between the number of registered nurses and the hours they spend with patients and whether patients develop serious complications or die while in hospital. Low levels of RN staffing were associated with serious complications – complications that occurred 3 to 9 per cent more often than in hospitals with higher RN staffing.
- Another 2002 study by Aiken in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that Registered Nurse staffing levels have a significant effect on preventable hospital deaths among surgical patients.
Your first stop should be the College of Nurses of Ontario.
- College of Nurses of Ontario (CNO) - click on Registration Guide for Internationally Educated Nurses
- Citizenship and Immigration Canada
- Canadian Nurses Association (CNA)
There are several good starting points for finding nursing positions in Ontario.
- The Ontario Hospital Association coordinates a job search effort with Workopolis.
- The Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario (RNAO), the professional association for nurses, maintains a career site called RNCareers with job postings for all levels of nursing including executive, manager, clinical and non-clinical roles for RNs, NPs and RPNs across all health-care sectors.
- Do not overlook the website of your facilities as they often post openings online.
- Look for job postings in local newspapers.
The best way will always be networking. Talk to others in the field and tell everyone you know that you are available and ask them if they know of any openings that would be appropriate.
Hospital nurses are paid according to the salary grid negotiated in the Hospital Central Collective Agreement. About 58,000 of ONA’s members are covered under this collective agreement. Other sectors negotiate with individual employers or with groups of employers.
Hospital nurses are paid according to where they are on a grid as negotiated in the Hospital Central Agreement for the term of April 1, 2014 - March 31, 2016. The grid is located on page 75 of the Hospital Central Agreement.
Non-union hospitals generally pay competitive salaries but don’t offer the protection of a union. There are very few non-union hospitals in Ontario.
18. How do the salaries of nurses in Ontario compare with those in other provinces?
The Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions produces a chart that compares nurses' salaries across the country. See the chart here.
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The school to which you are applying is the best source of information regarding bursaries that available through their program. ONA offers a bursary that is offered only to dependents of current ONA members. This information is available through Johnson Inc., the insurance company which provides benefits for ONA members.
Algonquin College, Pembroke
Brock University, St. Catharines
Cambrian College, Sudbury
Centennial College, Scarborough
Conestoga College (with McMaster), Kitchener
Fleming College (with Trent University), Peterborough
George Brown College, Toronto
Lakehead University, Thunder Bay
Lambton College, Sarnia
Laurentian University, Sudbury
Nipissing University (with Canadore College), North Bay
Queen's University, Kingston
Ryerson University, Toronto
Sault College, Sault Ste. Marie
St. Lawrence College, Kingston
Trent University, Peterborough
University of Ottawa, Ottawa
University of Toronto, Toronto
University of Western Ontario, London
University of Windsor, Windsor
York University, Toronto
Do you think there are enough registered nurses working to care for patients in Ontario?
My Union. My Contract. My Workplace.