ONA in the News

The Ontario Nurses’ Association (ONA) is frequently a health industry source and/or quoted in newspapers, magazines, radio and television stations across the province and nationally. Read the latest articles in which ONA is featured:

July 24: ONA supports the Liberal government’s decision to re-introduce legislation that would block the creation of for-profit blood plasma clinics in Ontario (CFOB FM Radio, July 24, 2014.)The Union says that a move towards privatization of the blood supply system would threaten its safety and integrity.

July 23: While the Ontario Nurses’ Association approves of the provincial government’s plans to re-introduce legislation which would prevent the creation of for-profit blood plasma clinics in Ontario, nurses still have concerns about the blood donation process (Intern Daily- Global Newsweek, July 23, 2014.) In particular, Registered Nurses (RNs) are worried about the use of unregulated Donor Care Associates (DCAs) to screen potential donors at clinics across Canada. ONA believes that RNs, who were responsible for screening donors before the introduction of DCAs, are better equipped -with specialized training and expertise- to ensure the safety of our blood supply.

July 23: Ontario’s nurses’ union is backing the Liberal government’s plan to “crack down” on pay-for-blood clinics, but adds that it’s worried about how blood donors are screened (QP Briefing, July 23, 2014.) ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says the union has ongoing concerns with how Canadian Blood Services is screening potential donors without RNs. “We have been fighting a battle to protect our blood supply system for well over a year, since the Canadian Blood Services launched a program to replace RNs with donor care associates,” said Haslam-Stroud. “Now the threat of privatizing our blood donor system attacks its integrity and safety. We’re pleased to see the Ontario government taking steps to prevent this from happening.” Health Minister Eric Hoskins tabled legislation that also incorporates changes recommended in the wake of an inquiry into why more than 1,200 cancer patients received dilated chemotherapy drugs. ONA says its primary concern is that donors won’t be properly screened and will pose a risk to Ontario’s blood supply.

July 20: The imposition of mandatory flu vaccines for health care workers varies broadly across North America (Toronto Star, July 20, 2014.) Healthcare administrators who have imposed mandatory vaccine policies regularly experience pushback. Ontario does not mandate vaccines and the matter is “left up to individual medical facilities.” Experts say flu vaccination rates need to be more than 90 per cent to effectively reduce the number of cases and spread of influenza. Several Toronto hospitals have announced plans to implement a “get a vaccine or wear a mask” policy, including North York General, St. Michael’s, Sick Kids, Sunnybrook and Holland Bloorview. There has already been resistance from nurses’ unions, who argue that the step is “invasive” and provides little assurance of success given the “questionable” efficacy of the vaccine. In BC, health officer Dr. Perry Kendall says that “every union believes that their workers should be immunized, but they think it should be voluntary.”

July 21: About 4,000 Canadians die each year from flu, but in Toronto hospitals, fewer than half of workers get a flu shot each year (CFRA, July 21, 2014.) Ontario Nurses’ Association regional vice-president Andy Summers says there’s dogma and heavy-handedness going on as hospitals look at making flu shots mandatory.

July 21: An Independent Assessment Committee has made 32 recommendations to improve staff morale and address workload and scheduling issues at the Erie-St. Clair CCAC (Occupational Health & Safety News, July 21, 2014.) The committee heard from both the CCAC and Ontario Nurses’ Association members. ONA represents the agency’s care coordinators, 90 per cent of whom are registered nurses. ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud said that the panel acknowledged that workload and staffing are significant issues. The CCAC has yet to fill seven care coordinator positions and the panel recommended that the vacancies be filled quickly to ensure patients receive the care they deserve. The panel’s report concluded that “workload and staffing are significant issues…effective staffing ensures that patient needs are being met and the work environment is palatable.”

July 18: Starting this fall, staff and volunteers at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre will either have to have a flu shot or wear a mask (CFTR AM, July 18, 2014.) Thirteen other Ontario hospitals have adopted similar measures over the objection of the Ontario Nurses’ Association.

July 18: Sunnybrook is offering staff a choice: take a flu shot or wear a mask (CIII TV, July 18, 2014.) The decision is expected to provoke a reaction from the Ontario Nurses’ Association, which has threatened to file grievances against other hospitals that have introduced the policy.

July 18: The decision of Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre to force its workers to either have a flu vaccine or wear a mask is expected to provoke a reaction from the Ontario Nurses’ Association (CFMJ AM, July 18, 2014.) ONA has threatened to file grievances against other hospitals that forced unvaccinated nurses to wear masks.

July 18: Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre is offering the people who work there a choice: have a flu shot or wear a mask (CFRB AM, July 18, 2014.) The Ontario Nurses’ Association is fighting the decision, saying that outing nurses who do not choose vaccination does nothing but provide patients with a false sense of security.

July 18: The Ontario Nurses’ Association is expressing concern, warning that outing nurses that do not choose vaccination and are forced to wear a mask will provide patients with a false sense of security (CablePulse 24, July 18, 2014.) Hospital staff at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre will be forced to either have the vaccine or wear a mask.

July 19: In Toronto long-term care homes, retirement homes and hospitals, nearly 200 people died and hundreds more were hospitalized because of the spread of disease in the past four years (thestar.com, July 19, 2014.) Toronto medical officer of health Dr. David McKeon says that in order to bring the numbers to acceptable levels, some sort of mandatory immunization of health care workers will have to take place. While immunization does not prevent the spread of all diseases, it can play a significant role in lessening the likelihood and severity of outbreaks, say experts. However, many unions representing health care workers oppose the idea. Ontario’s biggest hospital network, University Health Network in Toronto, will not require staff to be vaccinated. Ontario Nurses’ Association regional vice-president Andy Summers says “the biggest issue here is people’s freedom of choice to take their own personal health decision…and the vaccine is struggling to reach 50-per-cent efficacy. We’ve got dogma and heavy-handedness going on. To say to our membership that you are compelled to get the flu vaccine, we’re not going to say that.” Several Toronto hospitals say they are working on policies to require health care workers to be either vaccinated or wear a mask. Dr. Michael Gardam at UHN, however, says that the flu vaccine is “mediocre” and a “bit of a crapshoot” because of its variable effectiveness. He says organizations that have adopted the mandatory immunization policies have overestimated its effect on outbreak prevention.

July 17: Ontario Nurses’ Association Local 21’s Haldie Wicke was among those on hand at a postcard-writing campaign launch to push for increased hospital funding at Huron Perth Healthcare Alliance (The Beacon Herald, July 17, 2014.) She and other union leaders announced a campaign to protest plans for local hospital beds to be “realigned” and to ask for additional provincial funding. Seventeen beds across the four hospitals are to be affected, leaving a total of 113 beds at Stratford General Hospital, 20 at St. Marys Memorial Hospital, 20 at Seaforth Community Hospital and 20 at Clinton Public Hospital. The unions have launched a postcard campaign directed at the Minister of Health. A total of just $1.6 million is needed to keep the beds in Stratford, notes Michael Hurley, President of the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions/CUPE. He notes that Ontario spends about $350 less per person on acute hospital care services than the rest of the country. The province has “the fewest number of beds, the fewest staff for those beds and the shortest lengths of stay of any province in Canada, and in fact of any country with a developed economy.” The unions are hosting a community meeting on July 30 at 7 pm at the Army, Navy, Air Force Veterans community centre.

July 18: An independent panel of nursing experts has made 32 recommendations for improving care at the Erie-St. Clair Community Care Access Centre (Tecumseh Shoreline This Week, July 18, 2014.) The panel was called in by the Ontario Nurses’ Association which represents care coordinators who have the responsibility of assessing the level for care patients require, developing and implementing patient-centered plans for in-home and community health services, and providing ongoing evaluation to ensure the changing care needs of their patients are addressed. Ten of the recommendations deal with staffing and workload, four with the scope of unregulated health care providers and training, and four with keeping the professional responsibility clause of care coordinators flowing in a timely manner. Morale and ethical issues were the subject of eight recommendations. ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud, RN, said the “panel acknowledged that workload and staffing levels are significant issues…the organization has failed to add a promised additional 15 care coordinators; just eight have been hired.” The report acknowledged the passion for their work and dedication to the care of their clients displayed by the care coordinators.

July 18: Ontario Nurses’ Association President Linda Haslam-Stroud says that “receiving the influenza vaccine needs to be a choice and should be part of a more comprehensive, evidence-based infection control plan. Outing nurses that do not choose vaccination with mandatory mask-wearing does nothing but provide our patients with a false sense of security” (Globe and Mail, July 18, 2014.) Haslam-Stroud was speaking out about the latest Ontario hospital to declare that its doctors, nurses and other hospital staff and volunteers must either have a flu vaccine or wear a mask during flu season. Sunnybrook is introducing the policy this fall; according to the Public Health Agency of Canada, 3,500 Canadians die each year from the infectious disease. RNAO President Doris Grinspun disagrees with ONA’s stance, saying hospitals have a responsibility to do everything possible to protect patients, including forcing unvaccinated staff and visitors to put on masks.

July 15: The Ontario Nurses’ Association says that increases in community care funding cannot come at the expense of the already-underfunded hospitals in the province (Nurses Newsline, July 15, 2014.) ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud’s comments came after the Ontario government reintroduced its May budget, and noted that “front-line care providers see that patient care is suffering as a lack of funding increases for hospitals continues to result in RN job cuts, bed closures and service cuts.” ONA is calling on the government to fully fund the key services that patients must be able to access in public hospitals. Millions of hours of RN care have been cut from Ontario hospitals in recent years; in addition, there has been a further casualization of Ontario’s RN workforce, with 554 fewer full-time RN positions in 2013. Haslam-Stroud also pointed to insufficient community-sector staffing as another issue, noting that care coordinators at the Erie-St. Clair CCAC are responsible for up to 267 patients each, resulting in delays in assessing and updating care plans and sometimes sending these patients to the ER.

July 11: Low staff levels are damaging patient care, the Ontario Nurses’ Association is warning (Queen’s Park Briefing, July 11, 2014.) Care coordinators at the Erie-St. Clair CCAC are handling up to 267 patients each and this is resulting in delays that are hindering effective care. A panel of nursing experts just released 32 recommendations to address a number of issues at the agency. ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says the panel has “acknowledged workload and staffing levels are significant issues at the Erie-St. Clair CCAC…the organization has failed to add a proposed additional 15 care coordinators – just eight have been hired. The panel agrees the remaining vacancies must be filled to ensure our patients receive the care they deserve.” Improved staffing levels and more realistic workloads are foremost among the recommendations. Care coordinators are at the forefront of the government’s new coordinated care strategy.

July 12: An independent panel of nursing experts has recommended that the Erie-St. Clair CCAC hire more workers (Sarnia Observer, July 12, 2014.) The committee – brought in for the first time ever to solve a CCAC dispute – also made 31 other recommendations. It delivered its report after 18 months of failed negotiations between the CCAC and the Ontario Nurses’ Association. ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says she is “really thrilled that the committee has actually addressed the key issues that we brought forward.” Ten of the recommendations centre around staffing and workload concerns; the care coordinators working at the CCAC are overburdened with up to 267 patient each, leading to delays that force patients into emergency departments. Other recommendations focus on improving morale, processes and clearly defining roles. Haslam-Stroud says that secretarial staff have been assessing patients. The CCAC is asked to hire seven more care coordinators, and the panel notes that the overtime costs could have paid for four of the seven positions. Haslam-Stroud says that “seven is just the tip of the iceberg.” The CCAC says it has a hard time finding nurses to fill the vacancies, but Haslam-Stroud says that kind of “rhetoric” is what brought the case to a committee in the first place. She says there are thousands of Ontario nurses without a full-time job. The two sides will meet in August.

July 11: Erie-St. Clair CCAC nurses say they’re so understaffed they can’t provide their patients with competent care (Windsor Star, July 11, 2014.) The nurses believe the findings of an independent committee’s report on their ongoing staffing dispute with management support their claim. The committee made 32 recommendations, including one to fill seven unfilled vacancies and another urging a recruitment strategy for hiring casual, part-time and full-time staff. ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says the recommendations support what these care coordinators have been saying for more than a year. She says the care coordinators are tired of working overtime and trying to plug the holes in a system that simply needs more staff. CCAC Senior Director of Patient Services, Tricia Khan, insists that patient care hasn’t been compromised. The key priority for the CCAC is to become more efficient and make quality improvements. ONA and the CCAC will sit down to go over the recommendations. Haslam-Stroud says she is “flabbergasted” that the CCAC is now saying it’s “always” working to improve care. She says the recommendations should be “an embarrassment for the employer” and notes that the care coordinators who spoke to the committee all talked about how they felt they were unable to meet their patients’ care needs due to their workloads.

July 9: For the first time, the Ontario Nurses’ Association is calling in a third-party panel to help resolve a dispute at a CCAC (Chatham This Week, July 9, 2014.) ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud that says patients are falling through the cracks because of inadequate staffing at the Erie-St. Clair CCAC. Care coordinators are burdened with up to 267 patients each, and if patients are “not being reassessed so we can assure they have the right care [at home[, they’re going into the emergency department.” After 18 months of failed internal negotiations, ONA called in an independent assessment committee, something Haslam-Stroud says is “very significant.”

July 8: Contract talks have broken down for 3,000 health care workers at 174 nursing homes across the province (CJBK AM, CJQM News, CP24, CJOY AM, CHML AM, July 8, 2014.) The Ontario Nurses’ Association says the nurses were asked to make concessions that would have negatively affected the quality of patient care.

July 9: Union representatives who pushed for strategic voting to the benefit of Premier Kathleen Wynne are now accusing her government of trying to privatize key health services (Toronto Sun, July 9, 2014.) Yesterday, the Ontario Health Coalition organized a protest at Queen’s Park to present the government with 82,000 cards signed by citizens who oppose moving health care services out of hospitals and into private clinics. ONA’s Andy Summers said the dismantling of hospital services must stop. “I can tell you that the 60,000 members of the Ontario Nurses’ Association will not stand by as we privatize, give profit to private organizations who benefit from the suffering of others,” he said. ONA launched an ad campaign during the election that targeted only the Ontario PCs.

July 8: Negotiations have come to a standstill between the Ontario Nurses’ Association and 174 for-profit nursing homes (Sudbury Northern Life, July 8, 2014.) The last collective agreement expired on June 30. ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says that, “I think there was an opportunity to get a collective agreement that actually values our nurses’ worth.” ONA is seeking wage and benefit parity with equivalent employers at municipal long-term facilities. The wage disparity can be as much as $5 an hour and “these nurses do the exact same job as the nurses in the homes for the aged.” ONA has also taken issue with proposed removal of staffing language that protects nurse-patient ratios and the hours of nursing care that residents receive.

July 8: Negotiations for 3,000 Ontario RNs, RPNs, PSWs and allied health professionals working in 174 for-profit nursing homes have broken down (Nurses Newsline, July 8, 2014.) Members of the Ontario Nurses’ Association were met with a number of demands for concessions by the employer during negotiations that would have negatively impacted patient care. ONA noted that it is already difficult to recruit and retain nurses to work in nursing homes because of lower wages, benefits and pensions than their comparators in the not-for-profit sector. ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says that ONA and its members are “frustrated and disappointed that we were not able to achieve a settlement.” She added that ONA is extremely committed to reaching a negotiated settlement. “Unfortunately, the employer was focused on maximizing profits for shareholders at the expense of our frail and elderly residents.”

July 7: Broadcast News (July 7, 2014) reports that contract talks between 3,000 health care workers at 174 homes across the province have broken down. The Ontario Nurses’ Association represents the registered nurses, registered practical nurses, personal support workers and allied health professionals at the for-profit facilities. President Linda Haslam-Stroud says the issue will go to arbitration this fall if both sides can’t come to an agreement. ONA says it was asked during negotiations to make concessions that would have negatively affected the quality of resident care.

July 7: Talks have broken down between ONA’s 3,000 for-profit nursing home sector members and their employer (Queen’s Park Briefing, July 7, 2014.) ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud said the negotiations ended after two weeks of talks and mediation. ONA rejected attempts by the nursing home companies for concessions in a new deal, including benefit cuts and staffing rules. Haslam-Stroud said ONA was committed to reaching a negotiated deal and remains hopeful the employer will offer a “contract that reflects nurses’ value and the care needs of nursing home residents. Otherwise, the nurses will be forced to go to arbitration this fall.”

June 19:
Ontario Nurses’ Association members working at Humber River Hospital have called in an expert panel to examine RN staffing levels, fragmentation of patient care, improper staff support and an incorrect use of the skill mix (Canadian Press, June 19, 2014.) ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud said that, “unfortunately, this is not the first time that our nurses have had to call for an IAC at Humber River. Humber management has refused to address the very serious issues impacting the safety of patient care, previously in its emergency department and again in this IAC.” She notes that when patient care is involved, the College of Nurses has very clear patient care standards that nurses must meet. She notes that front-line staff cuts have led to nurses having to work too much overtime, burnout, injury and a higher risk of patient care errors.

June 23: Public health nurses in Durham Region have walked the picket lines with striking CUPE workers in a show of support (CKDO AM News, June 23, 2014.) Twenty of the Ontario Nurses’ Association members chanted, “Nurses support CUPE” on the lines.

June 21: A letter to the editor of the Toronto Star (June 21, 2014) from Linda Haslam-Stroud thanks Heather Mallick for her perceptive column on the lessons of the provincial election. The ONA President writes that Ontarians are “done” with the angry, divisive politicking of the provincial PCs. She notes that PC members are still blaming unions for their less, and she makes no apologies for advocating for a high-quality health care system. Haslam-Stroud suggests that perhaps the PCs would be better served by asking themselves if there are policies they could endorse that would actually benefit working people, rather than enriching their corporate friends while condemning working people to poverty.

June 18: ONA is at a hearing in Windsor to discuss staffing levels at the Erie St. Clair CCAC (CKLW AM, June 18, 2014.) ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says that care coordinators at the organization have workloads so heavy that there are delays in assessing new patients. As well, patient reassessments are being delayed, not done within the appropriate timelines and patients are slipping through the cracks. She says there is a lack of appropriate funding available to CCACs that would allow more care coordinators to be hired.

June 18: The union for Ontario nurses is “complaining” about inadequate staffing and patient care at the Erie St. Clair CCAC (Queen’s Park Briefing, June 18, 2014.) ONA says that nursing care coordinators have called in an independent assessment committee to review operations there. “This hearing is about ensuring that patients who require timely access to CCAC services receive the quality of care they need and deserve,” said ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud. Such disputes over staffing levels usually focus on money, says the piece. “The employer has failed to adequately address the professional practice concerns of our members, and they remain concerned about the health of patients and meeting their professional standards because of insufficient staffing,” said Haslam-Stroud.

June 14: Hundreds of people came out to support Thunder Pride Week, including ONA member Jackie Chesterman (CHFD TV, June 14, 2014.) She says that diversity and pride are not reserved exclusively for the parade. She sees more people who are comfortable with who they are, and it’s something she feels will make life a lot easier for our own child.

June 19: A letter to the editor of the Cornwall Standard-Freeholder (June 19, 2014) from ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says that the call for a ban on unions speaking out during an election is highly lacking in logic. It’s insulting to the intelligence of voters to say that Ontario has allowed itself to be controlled by special interest groups against the public good. She asks when RNs became a “special interest group?” Nurses are highly educated, highly skilled and there to provide care to those in our society who need it. Ontario has the second-worst RN-to-population ratio in the country; the policies of the PCs would have worsened that. Haslam-Stroud writes that free speech is an essential part of any democratic society. Nurses will continue to speak out – no matter the government in power – to fulfill our professional mandate as patient advocates.

June 19: The Ontario Nurses’ Association is calling in a third-party panel to help resolve a dispute at the Erie St. Clair CCAC (Chatham Daily News, Sarnia Observer, June 19, 2014.) ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says that patients are falling through the cracks because of inadequate staffing. Care coordinators – RNs and other health care professionals who coordinate patient care plans – are handling up to 267 patients each in the region. That results in delays. She says if patients aren’t being reassessed so “we can assure they have the right care at home, they’re going into the emergency department,” she said. That adds more of a burden on hospital staff, leads to higher costs and more strained care. After 18 months of failed negotiations internally, the nurses’ union has called in an independent assessment committee to hear from both sides. She says it is the first time ONA has called in such a panel for a CCAC. The CCAC’s new CEO concedes that all aspects of the organization should be considered.

June 17: A letter to the editor of the North Bay Nugget (June 17, 2014) from ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says that unionized nurses make no apologies for advocating for safe, quality patient care for the people of Ontario during the provincial election. Speaking out about threats to nursing care that patients require is a matter “of fulfilling our role as nurses.” The ads run by ONA were intended to ensure that voters were fully informed of the need for more RNs in Ontario. ONA now looks forward to contributing to the dialogue around how Premier Wynne will begin to fill the gap in the ratio of RNs per population; currently, the province has the second-worst ratio in the country, leaving patients at higher risk of suffering from complications and even death. ONA is working to ensure quality patient care for every Ontarians, she writes, no matter who they are, where they live or what their needs are.

June 16: A letter to the editor of the Toronto Sun (June 16, 2014) says the lesson learned from this election is that politicians should not be honest with voters regarding their platform initiatives. Tim McGee writes that any proposed belt-tightening will be “blown totally out of proportion” as seen by the attack ads from the Ontario Nurses’ Association, Ontario firefighters’ union and Working Families. Premier Wynne should have thanked the unions as their attack ads sealed the deal.

June 12: The Ontario union for nurses ran attack ads against the PCs and urged voters on election day to take a “hard look” at the party’s health policies before voting (QP Briefing, June 12, 2014.) “If Ontarians care about their health care, they will take a hard look at the policies of each of the parties, particularly a Tim Hudak-led PC party,” said Linda Haslam-Stroud, president of the Ontario Nurses’ Association. The 60,000-member union said that policies such as Hudak’s 100,000 job cut plan would hurt nurses, patients and erode health care.

June 12: A profile of local candidates in the Welland Tribune (June 12, 2014) includes one of a former ONA staff member. Cindy Forster, RN, is a “dedicated union activist,” who says she has been “fighting to protect” the community for more than 20 years. Among the NDP’s goals are cutting ER wait times in half and hiring more nurses.

June 9: The Law Times (June 9, 2014) has reported on a decision that has “divided employment lawyers.” The case involved an ONA member who had been bullied at work for a decade. A Workplace Safety and Insurance Appeals Tribunal panel found that chronic workplace-related stress could be a valid claim under Ontario’s workplace insurance system. Some lawyers laud the decision for asking the Workplace Safety & Insurance Board to consider psychological injuries sustained on the job over time. Currently, WSIB only compensates workers for physical injuries suffered on the job or acute psychological injuries following a “traumatic” event. The tribunal found that the nurse should seek a claim for the depression and anxiety she suffered. The Ministry of the Attorney General says it is reviewing the decision to decide if it warrants a judicial review.

June 11: A letter to the editor of the Waterloo Region Record (June 11, 2014) says the author was “displeased” to hear a radio ad from ONA which told her, in essence, “who not to vote for.” Cathy Pryor writes that as an RN, her union dues paid for the ad. Pryor writes that she agrees with Tim Hudak that “we need to put the brakes on spending.”

June 10: The International Nurses Association has selected Therese Marie Heenan, RN, to represent the nursing community of Ontario in its publication (IBWire, June 10, 2014.) She is an RN in the pediatric emergency medicine section of the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario. A nurse since 1986, she is also an active member of the Ontario Nurses’ Association.

June 10: During this election campaign, it turns out that the PCs were right to fear an “onslaught” from organized labour, though they were a bit off in predicting where it would come from (Globe and Mail, June 10, 2014.) Working Families has been running ads, but it has been less of a factor than in elections past. Individual unions – such as the Ontario Nurses’ Association – have more than stepped in. Adam Radwanski writes that that with Mr. Hudak running on an agenda that is much more threatening than in the past, unions wanted to be more hands on in this election.

June 10: In Dundas yesterday, PC Leader Tim Hudak took a swipe at the union-backed TV ads that say his platform is a threat to working families (Hamilton Spectator, June 10, 2014.) The Working Families Coalition, a group of 15 unions including the Ontario Nurses’ Association, is “spending millions and millions of dollars,” alleged Hudak. “They are taking money out of your pocket because they want to rent the Liberal government to get more wages, benefits and perks that we simply can no longer afford.” The Liberals were also campaigning in the area, and they had a man dressed as “Count von Count” holding a sign mocking Hudak’s Million Jobs Plan. The sign read: “Economists Agree: Hudak Math doesn’t Count.”

June 5: ONA Local 35 and the Chatham Kent Health Coalition have co-sponsored two all-candidates debates which will focus on health care (Courier Press, June 5, 2014.) Candidates from the Lambton Kent Middlesex riding representing the Progressive Conservatives, the Liberals, the NDP and the Green Party have confirmed that they will attend a debate to be held at 6:30 p.m. on June 5 at the Royal Canadian Legion (Margaret Ave) in Wallaceburg.

June 5: A letter to the editor which appears in both the St. Catharines Standard and the Niagara Falls Review criticizes ONA’s anti-Hudak, direct-mail campaign  for being “union garbage”  (June 5, 2014.) John Begin writes that Hudak is a “caring family man” who would never put Ontarians at risk. He suggests that maybe there is cause to freeze nurses’ wages to free up funds “to provide more nursing opportunities” including having more “nursing assistants rather than more high paid registered nurses.”

June 4: A National Post editorial criticizes public-sector unions, including ONA and the Ontario Provincial Police Association, for presenting Conservative leader Tim Hudak as “the bogeyman” who will singlehandedly lead the province to ruin if elected (June 4, 2014.) “The Ontario Nurses' Association turned the hyperbole up a notch by actually suggesting that a Hudak-led province could be detrimental to your health. Though Hudak has said that nurses and doctors would be exempted from his 100,000 job cuts to Ontario's public sector, union president Linda Haslam-Stroud called Hudak's plan, ‘the worst attack on nurses since Tim Hudak was last in government, during the Mike Harris days.’” Robyn Urback urges Ontarians to “look past the dramatics” because “spending restraint isn't nearly as scary as the creative thinkers leading Ontario's public sector unions might have you believe.”

June 4: A letter to the editor in the Bradford Expositor, calls for greater accountability in the government and criticizes public-sector unions representing teachers and nurses for supporting the Liberals and their wasteful bureaucracy (June 4, 2014.) “The nurses union is also running ads, saying ‘we need more nurses’...We already have lots of good hospitals, equipment, doctors, nurses and support staff, accounting for half the provincial budget. What we don't have is a method of organizing all these assets in a timely manner. We pay hospital CEOs big bucks, but micro-manage them from a health ministry bureaucracy.”

June 4: There is no clear winner following Tuesday’s televised leader debate according to an analysis in the Toronto Sun. In response to the debate, ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud gave a statement reiterating the Union’s position that the “risks to patient care are just too great” if Tim Hudak and the Conservatives are elected (June 4, 2014.) She pointed out that both Kathleen Wynne and Andrea Horwath targeted Hudak’s proposed cuts to the public sector, reinforcing the idea that voters cannot reconcile his promise to create jobs with his vow to cut them. 

June 3: 
Members of the Ontario Nurses’ Association armed with “More Nurses, No Hudak” signs attended an all-candidate, health-care debate in London to speak out against the Conservative leader’s campaign (CTV News, June 3, 2014.) ONA’s First Vice-President Vicki McKenna explained that nurses are extremely concerned by the policies proposed by Hudak, resulting in unprecedented political action efforts by the Union. 

June 3:
ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud is quoted in a recent Bloomberg article which analyzes the potential impact that a Liberal win in the provincial election could have based on the party’s proposed budget (June 3, 2014.) “The nurses of Ontario already took a two year wage freeze, I believe we have done our duty,” Haslam-Stroud said in a May 27 phone interview. “The government that’s going to be in play is going to have to take a long hard look at how much they believe they can continue to squeeze out of the hospitals.”

May 31:
Candidates from three parties (PC, NDP and Green) agreed that Ontario’s health-care system needs an “overhaul” during a debate hosted by the Chatham- Kent Health Coalition and the Ontario Nurses’ Association Local 35 (The Chatham Daily News, May 31, 2014.) Local NDP candidate Dan Gelinas criticized health-care service cuts and a lack of transparency while PC incumbent Rick Nicholls said that LHINs are inefficient and should be scrapped. All three candidates targeted high-salaries and bonuses for bureaucrats and agreed that home care will play a crucial role in the coming years. Nicholls came under fire from audience members and his fellow candidates who are critical of PC leader Tim Hudak’s plans to cut 100,000 public-service jobs.    

May 30:
Cindy Silverthorn of Langton wrote a letter to the editor to thank all the local businesses and organizations, including the Ontario Nurses’ Association, that helped support nurses at Tillsonburg District Memorial Hospital celebrating Nursing Week 2014 (Tillsonburg News, May 30, 2014.) Both ONA and Unifor, which have nurses as members at the hospital, helped provide food for their event while local businesses supplied coupons and draw prizes.

May 29: The Ontario Nurses’ Association has “ratcheted up its fight” against PC leader Tim Hudak with a call to voters to reject the PCs on election day (Queen’s Park Briefing, May 29, 2014.) The union updated its morenurses.ca website, urging voters to “choose care, not cuts” on June 12. ONA believes that Hudak’s plans to cut the broader public service and impose a wage freeze undermine the profession and worsen health care. ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says that, “As patient advocates, we can’t let the damage to health care that was done during the Mike Harris years – of which Tim Hudak was a part – happen again. Mr. Hudak’s proposals risk our patients’ health and nurses are urging voters to choose care, not cuts in this election.”

May 26: Ontario PC party boss Tim Hudak’s health critic has attacked Ontario front-line RNs and their union (Nurse Newsline, May 26, 2014.) ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud has responded to an open letter from Christine Elliott and says that ONA stands by every statement in the union’s campaign ads. ONA is concerned with Tim Hudak’s plans to freeze nurses’ wages, alter their well-managed defined benefit pensions, and take $3.42-billion a year out of the provincial coffers by giving corporations a 30-per-cent tax cut. That money, she says, could go to fund health care. Haslam-Stroud also notes that Hudak would increase privatization in a number of sectors in which nurses work, contracting out the work to private clinics and home care providers; she adds that former PC Premier Mike Harris and his wife purchased a private home nursing care franchise in 2012. Haslam-Stroud urged the PCs to be up front and honest with Ontarians about how their plans will impact health care “and our patients. Attacking nurses who deliver the care seems self-defeating.”

May 28: Ontario voters will head to the polls because the NDP said it could not support the budget (Collingwood Connection, May 28, 2014.) The Liberal budget was supported by the Ontario Nurses’ Association, Unifor, CUPE and the Registered Nurses Association of Ontario. Only Warren (Smokey Thomas) of OPSEU said the NDP should join the PCs in toppling the government.

May 28: ONA Local 35 and the Chatham-Kent Health Coalition are co-sponsoring two all-candidates’ debates focused on health care (Chatham Daily News, May 28, 2014.) The first will be held Friday at 6:30 pm at Countryview Golf Course.

May 27: Eleven union groups have registered with Elections Ontario to launch political advertising (Toronto Sun, May 27, 2014.) Last week, PC MPP Christine Elliott issued an open letter to the Ontario Nurses’ Association accusing it of misleading advertising. An ONA radio ad says Ontario doesn’t have enough RNs now and “Hudak’s cuts will make things worse.” ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud responded to Elliott by saying the union stands by its ads.

May 26: The PCs and Ontario’s nurses’ union are fighting a war of words over whether PC Leader Tim Hudak’s policies would hurt patients in the health-care system and cut nursing jobs (Queen’s Park Briefing, May 26, 2014.) Health critic Christine Elliott sent ONA an open letter accusing the union of misleading ads that say the PC plan would hurt patients and cut nursing jobs. Radio ads by ONA say that Hudak’s “dangerous” plan would threaten health care, erode nurses’ wages and pensions and generally make things worse. In an open letter of its own, ONA called Elliott’s letter “an escalation of the PC party attack on nurses and their union” and said it’s intended to intimidate nurses. ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says “we stand by our ads.” ONA believes the PC plan to contract services out to private clinics and home care will lead to poorer quality care and a weakening of public health care services. The plan to merge Ontario hospitals into 30 or 40 health-care hubs will mean the closure of many hospitals and the loss of many nursing jobs and community care coordination, and corporate tax cuts would take money out of provincial revenues that would have funded health care. “There isn’t an independent economist in the country who would agree that you can cut billions from the provincial budget without harming the quality of publicly funded health care or impacting the number of registered nurses providing care in Ontario,” said Haslam-Stroud.

May 26: Tory health critic Christine Elliott is accusing ONA of “misleading” ads that say the PCs’ intent to cut 100,000 public-sector jobs would “devastate” the health care sector (Queen’s Park Briefing, May 26, 2014.) In an open letter to ONA, Elliott said the party’s million jobs plan would not affect “vital front-line services such as those performed by nurses, doctors and police.” Radio ads from ONA say Tim Hudak’s “dangerous plan” to cut 10 per cent of the broader public service would threaten health care, erode nurses’ wages and pensions and generally make things worse. Elliott says the party would put a new focus on chronic care, expand home and long-term care availability, give patients more choice in health services and improve quality.

May 23:
At an Ontario Health Coalition rally, a 10-foot rocking chair was used to raise awareness of the plight of long-term care home residents (Welland Tribune, May 23, 2014.) Ontario Nurses’ Association representative Dianne LeClair said more staff is needed to deliver the care seniors need. “It’s a team effort,” she said. “If we don’t have enough registered nurses, personal support workers – the whole group – we’re never going to get residents to a stable and safe condition. We’re working together to ensure that their needs are met.”

May 22:
Brighton’s Liberal headquarters was the site of Lou Rinaldi’s campaign launch last week, and Rinaldi took the opportunity to point out that the Ontario Nurses’ Association, Unifor, the RNAO and CUPE had all urged NDP Leader Andrea Horwath to support the Liberal’s spring budget (Brighton Independent, May 22, 2014.) Rinaldi pointed out that there may never have been a “more critical election for the people of Ontario…” He calls Mike Harris an “angel” compared to Tim Hudak and his plans to turn Ontario into a Third World jurisdiction.

May 21:
The Ontario Nurses’ Association is taking aim at Tory Leader Tim Hudak and asking voters to “choose care, not cuts” (QP Briefing, May 21, 2014.) New radio ads began airing and say Hudak’s plan to cut 100,000 public-sector jobs would threaten health care, erode nurses’ wages and pensions and generally make things worse.” The message is clear: if you want to protect health care, vote for the Liberals or the NDP, not the Tories, says the report. ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says that “nurses believe there are few issues more urgent than the need for more nurses in our hospitals, long-term care facilities and communities. The dangerous proposals of PC Leader Tim Hudak – including cutting nurses’ pensions, freezing wages and increasing workloads – risk our patients’ health and risk driving much-needed nurses out of the province.” ONA says that many nurses will be handing out leaflets in their communities, talking about patient care risks and the need for more nurses here. “As nurses,” said Haslam-Stroud, “we are a pivotal part of the system and we advocate for our patients. This is an election in which voters need to hear the voices of nurses.”

May 21:
NDP Leader Andrea Horwath vowed yesterday to cut ER wait times in half (Sarnia Observer, May 21, 2014.) Standing in front of London’s University hospital was a calculated move – it is a riding where the Liberals have a chance, and the hospital has the second-longest wait times among 74 major hospitals in Ontario. Local 100 of the Ontario Nurses’ Association says the logjam and ER delays will only worsen if plans move ahead to cut about 52,000 nursing hours. University hospital’s ER is one of several departments that already doesn’t call in replacements when one or even two nurses are absent. The NDP says it will hire 250 nurse practitioners to tackle ER wait times, create 1,400 more spaces in long-term care homes, require those in hospital and eligible for home care to receive it within five days, and spend $70 million a year for four years to create 50 more family health teams.

May 17:
A letter to the editor of the Hamilton Spectator (May 17, 2014) from Elizabeth Ward, RN, asks whether hospitals really care about nurses. Ward writes that she has been a committed RN for 43 years; this past week was Nursing Week, and hospitals have acknowledged the “invaluable, essential work that we do” by holding awards ceremonies, teas and other events. But, she writes, there is another side. The last negotiated contract between the Ontario Nurses’ Association and Ontario Hospital Association expired at the end of March; after months of negotiations, the matter went to arbitration. Hospitals had wanted attack the nurses’ salary grid, decimate benefits, sick leave and long-term disability. Ward asks the hospitals: “How much do you really value us? If you did, you would have come to the bargaining table prepared to negotiate with respect and in good faith.”

May 16:
ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud will visit ONA members working at St. Mary’s Hospital in Kitchener as part of their Nursing Week celebrations (Canada Newswire, May 16, 2014.)

May 14: Ontario Nurses’ Association President Linda Haslam-Stroud and ONA’s Region 5 Vice-President Karen Bertrand joined Windsor-area nurses as they celebrated Nursing Week 2014 with a dinner held at the Fogolar Furlan Club (Windsor Star, May 14, 2014.)

May 14: ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud will be in Sault Ste. Marie to visit registered nurses to mark Nursing Week 2014 (SooToday.com, May 14, 2014.) Accompanied by Region 1 Vice-President Pam Mancuso, Haslam-Stroud will visit members working at Group Health Centre, Algoma Public Health and Extendicare Maple View. ONA’s theme for Nursing Week is More Nurses, Better Care. Haslam-Stroud says that nurses provide cost-effective and high-quality care to patients. Despite clear evidence of the value of nursing care, Ontario continues to have the second-lowest RN-to-population ratio in all the provinces.

May 11: 
Nipigon needs nurses now, according to an independent panel of nursing experts (CJBN TV, May 11, 2014.) The Ontario Nurses’ Association is pressing to add more nursing hours at the Nipigon District Memorial Hospital, where labour shortages exist in the acute care unit, the ER and the chronic care unit. The hospital has referred 25 recommendations from the independent panel to its board of directors. 
May 12: ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud was in Windsor this week to celebrate Nursing Week with local members (CKLW AM, May 12, 2014.) ONA’s theme for Nursing Week is More Nurses, Better Care. Haslam-Stroud explained that Ontario has an RN shortage and that, though she’s with members celebrating Nursing Week, she is also sending the message that more nurses are needed. Nurses are cost effective and “at a time where we’re all looking to ensure that every taxpayer dollar of ours that we’re putting into the system is spent accordingly, we’ve very clearly identified that we can actually save the health care system money if we have the appropriate number of RNs in place.” In the upcoming election, ONA is “out there very specifically identifying that the Hudak government is not interested in supporting nurses, they’re interested in basically gutting nurses, gutting our pension plans, freezing our wages, and not actually valuing us for the great care that we’re providing patients...we’re asking our nurses…to be talking to their friends, their communities…” The main challenge facing nurses today is workloads.

May 12:
The theme of Nursing Week 2014 for members of the Ontario Nurses’ Association is “More Nurses, better care” (London Free Press, May 12, 2014.) “This theme reflects the importance and value of the knowledge and skills that our nurses bring to health care and the positive benefits of nursing care to our patients,” said ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud. “In Ontario, it is absolutely imperative that we stop the further erosion of nursing positions. We need more nurses, not fewer nurses, and ONA is strongly advocating for an end to further cuts of the nurses that our patients rely on.” Haslam-Stroud says that studies have linked more nurses with better patient health outcomes, adding that Ontario has the second-lowest RN-to-population ratio of all the provinces of Canada.

May 7: ONA is “applauding” a series of recommendations about staffing at Nipigon hospital (CBC Radio 1, May 7, 2014.) An independent panel has recommended that the hospital add nursing hours in the acute care and chronic units, as well as the ER. Vicki McKenna said the nurses there were asking for enough registered nursing hours to ensure that there is proper coverage in these units. CEO Carl White says that he will consider the recommendations. Both the hospital and union say they expect to meet to discuss the recommendations.

May 6:
An independent nursing panel has recommended that more RN hours be added to care for patients in the acute care unit, ER and chronic unit at Nipigon District Memorial Hospital (Nurse Newsline, May 6, 2014.) The recommendations were made following a three-day hearing called by members of the Ontario Nurses’ Association. The IAC made a total of 25 recommendations that directly or indirectly impact the RNs’ workloads. ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says that it should be “reassuring for this community to know that the expert panel found merit in their concerns and made recommendations that – if acted upon by hospital management – will improve the safety and quality of the care they receive.”

May 2: 
CBLT TV News (May 2, 2014) reports that while Andrea Horwath was clear that she has lost confidence in the Liberal government, but the question remains whether voters have lost confidence in the government. Not everyone feels like the NDP does. The NDP’s usual allies in the labour movement have been telling the party they like the budget and that it should be passed. Among those commenting is Linda Haslam-Stroud, President of the Ontario Nurses’ Association. She said the government should be allowed to “keep the course because we do not need at this point another election. Only OPSEU President Smokey Thomas was anxious for an election to be called.

May 3: 
Kitchener-Waterloo MPP Catherine Fife said she urged NDP Leader Andrea Horwath to “cast aside the heads of Unifor, the Ontario Federation of Labour and the Ontario Nurses’ Association who asked the NDP to support the 2014 budget and finalized the decision to vote against it (Waterloo Region Record, May 3, 2014.) Fife said the union leaders “like a minority government because they like the fact that we’ve been successful in two budgets.”

May 3: 
Despite being urged by the Ontario Nurses’ Association, CUPE, the RNAO and Unifor to support Premier Kathleen Wynne’s budget, NDP leader Andrea Horwath said she wouldn’t pass the budget and has triggered a June 12 election (Toronto Star, May 3, 2014.) The report says that Wynne is “running against Tim Hudak, Andrea Horwath and Stephen Harper and away from Dalton McGuinty in the June 12 election.” Horwath said her party could not back a Liberal budget laden with goodies to make the NDP happy because she “cannot in good conscience support a government that people don’t trust anymore.” Hudak says he has a “laser-like focus on job creation. I’ve got a plan that actually spreads optimism around the province.”

May 2: 
Ontario RNs working in hospitals have won a “meager” arbitration settlement (QP Briefing, May 2, 2014.) The two-year award for members of the Ontario Nurses’ Association provides a 1.4-per-cent increase in each year. ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud said that RNs have “already sacrificed wages with a two-year wage freeze in the last contract.” She says RNs had every expectation of moving to more appropriate compensation that “reflects the value of RNs to health care and would have been more in line with increases given to other professional essential service workers, and our Canadian nursing counterparts.” She did say the award had one piece of good news for newly graduated nurses. “The arbitrator rejected all of the Ontario Hospital Association’s proposals, including a three-per-cent cut to the start rate for new RN graduates,” she said. “This would have resulted in our new RNs considering their options to practice in other jurisdictions, rather than be the lowest-paid RNs in all of English-speaking Canada.

May 2: 
A group of local union members, including members of the Ontario Nurses’ Association, are lobbying the government for long-term care funding (Brockville Recorder & Times, May 2, 2014.) A rally held in Brockville was one of several planned for the coming weeks. The protesters noted that the government currently budgets $88 a day for residents, providing 2.8 hours of care during a 24-hour period. The group is pushing for a minimum of four hours of care per 24-hour period. Even if funding was increased to $100 a day, it would still be less than the government pays for prison inmates.

May 2: 
Ontario nurses will see nearly a three per cent increase in pay over the next two years in an arbitration award given the day before a provincial budget froze hospital spending for the third straight year (Globe and Mail, May 2, 2014.) The nurses will receive 1.4 per cent in each of the next two years, less than the association asked for but more than the hospitals hoped to pay when talks broke down. Ontario Hospital Association President Anthony Dale called the award “extremely disappointing” and warned it would add about $60 million in inflationary increases to hospital budgets. Though “generally pleased” with the award, ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud said she and her members intend to keep pressing the Premier to ensure that cash-strapped hospitals don’t cut nursing positions to make up the difference. “Certainly if Minister Matthews and the Liberals are still in place, we will be putting pressure on them, absolutely, in our discussions to assure that the appropriate funding is there for our patients and our nurses.” ONA’s last collective agreement saw members take a two-year pay freeze followed by a 2.75 per cent increase in the third year.

April 28: 
Ontario RNs and allied health professionals marked the National Day of Mourning at events in the province (Nurses Newsline, April 28, 2014.) The ONA members and nursing student affiliates joined other workers in remembering those who have died, made ill or have been injured on the job. ONA members specifically honour RNs who have died – registered nurses Tecla Lin and Nelia Laroza, who died during the SARS outbreak, Lori Dupont, RN, who was murdered while working in the recovery room at Windsor’s Hotel-Dieu Grace Hospital, and nurses who have also died of workplace exposures. “One death is too many,” said Haslam-Stroud.

April 28: 
The National Day of Mourning was held April 28, with York Region observing the event in memory of workers killed or injured on the job (YorkRegion.com, April 28, 2014.) Ontario Nurses’ Association members marked the event across Ontario, with ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud noting that “this is a particularly significant day for nurses to pause and remember. Nurses and their health care worker colleagues continue to be the target of workplace violence more often than any other profession, and they are on the front lines to care for those who have been sickened or injured at work.” She adds that “even one death is too many” for workers, noting that RNs Tecla Lin and Nelia Laroza died while caring for patients with SARS, and Lori Dupont, RN, was murdered while working at Windsor’s Hotel-Dieu Grace Hospital.

April 29: 
Conservative MPP Monte McNaughton is calling for the provincial auditor general to investigate a nursing fund that has spent as little as half a cent on the dollar on front-line care (Sault Star, London Free Press, Stratford Beacon-Herald, April 29, 2014.) The eight-year-old Nursing Retention Fund has released as little as $236,942 to save nursing jobs; it was managed by the nurses’ union and two professional associations. The management committee has spent about $6 million in expenses to look after a fund that received $40 million up front and another $1 million to offset some expenses. The remainder of the fund will be given to the two nursing associations if it isn’t spent. Health Minister Deb Matthews says she is working with the nursing groups to find ways to spend the money. Doris Grinspun, chair of the committee that oversees the fund, said the push to make the fund an irrevocable trust came from then-Health Minister George Smitherman, not nurses.

April 29: 
Elected officials, municipal staff and union dignitaries recognized the National Day of Mourning in Chatham yesterday (Chatham Daily News, April 29, 2014.) It was a day to remember the lives cut short in the workplace and resolve to prevent future tragedies. Ontario Nurses’ Association Bargaining Unit President Dan Drouillard said that “education making workers aware [that] safety practices are in place for a reason” is a good start to preventing future tragedies. He said the Day of Mourning is a time to reflect on those who have lost their lives in their workplace as well as their families. It’s also a time to celebrate how far we’ve come in preventing deaths and injuries on the job. In Chatham-Kent, long-term care workers are the most injured on the job of all workers.

April 28: 
The Working Families Coalition is suing the PC party for defamation over statements made on the PC’s website (Toronto Sun, April 28, 2014.) PC Burlington MPP Jane McKenna accused the Working Families Coalition – a group of unions including the Ontario Nurses’ Association – of using the “same libel chill tactics as Premier Kathleen Wynne, who is suing Tim Hudak and Lisa MacLeod over comments made about the police probe into the gas plant scandal. The lawyer for Working Families, Paul Cavalluzzo, says the website’s contents are defamatory, asserting that the group is “an agent of the Liberal Party.” He pointed out that the courts have dismissed PC complaints to Elections Canada.

April 24: 
The president of the Ontario Nurses’ Association says that patients’ ability to identify a nurse goes beyond a standard-issue uniform (CBC News, April 24, 2014.) Linda Haslam-Stroud said that, “we as RNs…wear nursing pins. We wear name tags that say ‘registered nurse’ on them. Certainly, I think the first thing for any of us to do, as nurses, when we walk into a room is say, ‘Hello Mr. Smith, my name’s Linda, and I’m your registered nurse for today.” Haslam-Stroud was reacting to news that Thunder Bay Health Sciences Centre has developed a new policy that requires nurses to wear a standard uniform. The Executive Director of the RPNAO, Dianne Martin, says the hospital has a double standard. “I don’t think we’re going to tell physicians ‘this is what you’re going to wear in today.’ And, I certainly always worry about the issue that we’re going to suggest that physicians are more able to make professional decisions [and] that nurses…must have them made for them.”

April 22: 
A letter to the editor of the Woodstock Sentinel-Review (April 22, 2014) from nurse Karen Hughes talks about the good and the bad that she faces each day in her professional life. She writes about the abuse and violence she experiences in her job, and about feeling humbled to hold patients’ family members and provide comfort. Hughes also writes about the treatment nurses in Ontario have received by the government – job freezes, layoffs, pay caps and benefits cuts. She notes that the Ontario Hospital Association wants to cut RN pay by three per cent. Hughes writes that she loves her job, but “if you wonder why nurses are leaving the profession when there is a serious shortage already, or why we are going to the U.S. for employment, you already have your answer.” She says that “our government has made it crystal clear that nurses are not valued or appreciated.” To support nurses, the public is urged to click on www.morenurses.ca.

April 17: 
Headwaters Health Care Centre is closing a bed and issuing pink slips to 16 nurses because of “financial challenges” (Orangeville Banner, April 17, 2014.) ONA First Vice-President Vicki McKenna, RN says that the union has held meetings with the hospital about potential cutbacks. “This is budget time for hospitals,” she said, “so we are getting layoff notices in many organizations in the province in the last two weeks. We probably will continue to.” She said the idea of offering early retirement or relocation to affected nurses is “just a shell game. Let’s not fool ourselves, that position the nurse will move to was being filled by part-time or casual nurses. It is just goofy. Even if it’s just one nurse or 15 nurses, the reality is that there are less hours” of nursing care. She noted that for every RN you reduce and every patient you add to a nurse’s workload, the morbidity and mortality rates increase by seven per cent. “People are weighing those risks and saying it’s okay.”

April 10:
Ontario Finance Minister Charles Sousa says the province is hiring more nurses than ever, but it “rang a little hollow” in London just after London Health Sciences Centre announced plans to cut 27 nursing positions (Metro, April 10, 2014.) Sousa told the media that nurses are more in demand than ever in Ontario, even though both London hospitals will be downsizing this year. “We’ve hired more nurses, not fired more nurses,” he said. He stressed that the province needs more nurses, personal care workers and practitioners. The Ontario Nurses’ Association “vehemently disagrees” with LHSC CEO Murray Glendining’s assertion that cutting RNs won’t impact patient care.

April 9: Ontario Finance Minister Charles Sousa has deflected questions on recent nursing cuts at London hospitals (Blackburn News, April 9, 2014.) Both St. Joseph’s Health Care and London Health Sciences Centre have announced RN cuts in recent weeks. Sousa said that the province is adding nursing positions, not cutting them. The Ontario Nurses’ Association says that it believes the government’s new funding formula means that hospitals are balancing budgets on the backs of nurses. The nurses have been fighting back over cuts they say are an attack on their profession.

April 9: Lakeridge Health CEO Kevin Empey says the corporation’s goal is to provide patients with the right care at the right time, but the Ontario Nurses’ Association says the hospital is compromising patient care by cutting more than 30 nurses (Oshawa Express, April 9, 2014.) Budget constraints mean the hospital is “reconfiguring” some 30 RNs within the corporation. ONA First Vice-President Vicki McKenna says patients were not at the forefront of the decision to cut nurses. “Certainly we think it’s totally inappropriate,” she said. “They are cutting thousands of nursing hours at Lakeridge Health. This decision is not going to be the cure all.” McKenna says she knows that hospital budgets are tight, but “we have the put patients at the core of the decisions.”

April 10: Nurses and firefighters in Barrie are working without contracts as they wait for arbitration decisions (Barrie Advance, April 10, 2014.) Members of the Ontario Nurses’ Association saw their central hospital agreement expire on March 31, and at issue are wages and benefits. ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud said the “Ontario Hospital Association’s proposals of cuts to wages and benefits will have a profound effect on the supply of nurses in Ontario that directly impacts the quality of care that Ontarians can expect to receive. The proposed new system of RN wage cuts would send a strong message that registered nurses are not valued and prompt new RN graduates to look south of the border or to other provinces.”

April 2: ONA’s 60,000 registered nurses and allied health professionals and affiliated nursing students are mourning the passing of the union’s founding Chief Executive Officer Anne Gribben (Nurses Newsline, April 2, 2014.) ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud said that, “Anne laid the groundwork for a strong collective bargaining system for nurses in Ontario. She was such a guiding light for so many nurses over the years, as a strong advocate for the profession, for women’s rights and as a leading voice for a unionized workforce in Ontario.” ONA, which celebrated its 40th anniversary last year, was formed in October 1973 at a meeting of RNs in downtown Toronto. Under Gribben’s guidance, nurses sought and achieved a central collective bargaining process and landmark professional responsibility clause, which gives nurses a mechanism for dealing with excessive workloads and dangerous working conditions that put patients at risk.

April 3: Health-care workers, including nurses, are at risk for “stubbornly high rates” of on-the-job injuries (healthydebate.ca, April 3, 2014.)Unavoidable exposure to everyday job hazards -repetitive lifting, chemicals, infections and violence- means that the number of injuries reported by health-care workers has stayed relatively steady compared to other industries such as mining and manufacturing that have been able to reduce the number of injuries in the workplace over the years. “It is expected in health care that front line workers put themselves forward to care for patients at all costs – they step up and do what they can, often at their own peril,” said University Health Network’s former Chief Nursing Executive Mary Ferguson- Paré. Nancy Johnson, a Health and Safety Specialist with the Ontario Nurses’ Association, explains that unlike other industries, health care is unpredictable and therefore many tasks can’t be mechanized to reduce the strain on workers. “It’s impossible to do everything with machines – in industry loads are static, but in health care loads are unpredictable and dynamic.”

April 4: Forty registered nurses at Lakeridge Health will receive layoff notices, although the hospital says that they currently have 60 open RN positions throughout the facility (Oshawa This Week, April 4, 2014.) Lakeridge officials say that because of rules in the nurses’ contract they can’t just move a nurse from one job to another. Lakeridge CEO Kevin Empey says that he hopes that most of the nurses will move to other positions within the hospital. Officials say that the creation of a new unit –staffed mainly with registered practical nurses- to serve an overflow of patients waiting for spots in long-term care facilities is one of the motivating factors behind the decision to cut RN positions. “We’ve finally given up and said we have to do something ourselves. We have to reduce our costs, we don’t need an RN sitting with a lot of these patients who don’t need acute care anymore, they need to be in a long-term care home,” said Empey. ONA’s First Vice-President, Vicki McKenna, expressed concern about increased workloads for the nurses who remain and the impact it will have on patient care. “The plans, as they understand them now, will do nothing but increase the workload and we’re very concerned about the quality of care the nurses who are left behind will be able to provide,” she said.

April 3: In a letter to the editor of the Kincardine News, a registered nurse expressed her concern about the future of nursing and health care in Ontario if the Ontario Hospital Association (OHA) succeeds in its goal to impose a 3 per cent pay cut on entry level nurses (April 3, 2014.) “I feel that by cutting the entry level nurses salary you will see many new graduates leave Ontario and take jobs in other provinces or the U.S. to get the pay they deserve. These new nurses are vital to the sustainability of our healthcare facilities,” writes RN Diane Jolliffe. She writes that the OHA’s contract proposals to the Ontario Nurses’ Association are “insulting” to nurses and points out that there is already a distinct lack of front-line nurses in Ontario, a number that will continue to fall as thousands of nurses become eligible for retirement in the next decade. New nurses need to be encouraged to enter the profession now to maximize the amount of time that they can learn and receive training from these experienced nurses on the front lines.

April 3: London West’s New Democrat MPP Peggy Sattler accused the government of forcing hospitals to put patients at risk by cutting vital staff positions to balance their bottom lines (London Community News, April 3, 2014.) London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC) has announced that it must cut the equivalent of 27 full-time nursing positions and 41 full-time cleaners in an effort to manage a $37.2 million budget shortfall. “Does the minister truly believe that the elimination of these nursing and cleaning positions will not have an impact on hands-on quality care in our community?” Sattler asked in the legislature on Tuesday. On March 18 the Ontario Nurses’ Association held a rally at Queen’s Park calling on the government to hire more nurses to address Ontario’s dismal RN-to-population ratio, the second lowest in Canada. Health Minister Deb Matthews went on the defensive and responded that LHSC has said that the cuts will have “no impact on patient care.”

April 1: The Ontario Nurses’ Association is speaking out against the London Health Sciences Centre’s plans to cut nursing hours -equivalent to 27 full-time nurse positions- in an effort to balance the hospital’s budget (CFPL AM, April 1, 2014.) The Union warns that the loss of thousands of nursing hours will be detrimental to patient care. “I don't care how you cut it, that will be a loss to the patients of London Health Sciences Centre and to their families,” said ONA’s First Vice-President Vicki McKenna.

April 2: Firefighters, police officers, executives and a nurse practitioner who is a member of the Ontario Nurses’ Association were among the 142 Chatham-Kent employees who made the province’s 2013 Sunshine List of public-sector employees making at least $100,000 (Chatham This Week, April 2, 2014.)

April 2: The president of ONA Local 100, representing nurses at London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC), warns that nursing cuts will have a negative impact on patient care in an already overburdened hospital (London Free Press, April 2, 2014.)LHSC has announced that it intends to cut 52,000 nursing hours –the equivalent of 27 full-time nursing positions- to help balance its budget in the upcoming year. The hospital claims that the cuts won’t compromise patient care, but James Murray, a nurse and union leader at LHSC, says that in the last year and a half, nurses have filed almost 400 formal complaints about patient care and many of those complaints were the result of inadequate staffing. “I'm not sure how they can say it won't have an effect on patient care.” The hospital hopes to further reduce spending by negotiating collective agreements for staff members that will cost $5 million less than originally planned. In order to offset a 0.5% reduction in provincial funding and rising operating costs, LHSC must trim a total of $37 million from its budget.

April 1: As the Canada Health Accord expired Monday, protesters including members of ONA and Unifor rallied outside the office of Sault Ste. Marie MPP David Orazietti (sootoday.com, April 1, 2014.)ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud has said that while Ontario is the most populous Canadian province it comes second-to-last in terms of its registered nurse-to-population ratio, something that can’t change without support from the federal government. “Our ability to address that grievous gap in nursing care is predicated on the federal government’s equitable funding of the provinces. While Ontario has to address a budgetary freeze for health care funding that has undercut our ability to attract and retain experienced RNs, the federal government bears a responsibility for shortchanging the provinces.”

April 1: Protesters in Sault Ste. Marie including members of the Ontario Nurses’ Association asked Premier Kathleen Wynne why Ontario’s seniors are receiving less care at home despite the province hiring more nurses and personal support workers (The Sault Star, April 1, 2014.) Wynne, who was in the midst of a visit to the Soo Curlers Association, stopped to speak with the protesters and told them “we’re on the same side.” One man told the Premier that home care nurses are being laid off leaving seniors and vulnerable patients without the support they need to stay out of hospitals. Wynne says that her government is willing to work together to ensure that the necessary services are being provided.

April 1: Members of the Ontario Nurses’ Association in Sault Ste. Marie joined protesters from across the country calling on the federal government to take the lead on a new national health accord that would help fill a “nursing gap” that has left the province with the second-lowest registered nurse-to-population ratio in Canada (The Sault Star, April 1, 2014.) Members of a health coalition including ONA participated in rallies outside the Soo Curlers Association and local MP Bryan Hayes’ office. While protesters admit that the province has hired nurses and personal support workers in recent years, they say they “don’t know where they are.” 

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