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:
January 15: ONA is calling on the provincial government to end the underfunding of hospitals and cuts to RN positions (Exchange Morning Post, January 15, 2014). At a presentation to the Standing Committee on Finance & Economic Affairs, ONA’s Jo Anne Shannon, RN provided examples from the St. Catharines site of the Niagara Health System of how RN cuts have hurt patients. She also cited research showing the direct link between RN staffing levels and improved health outcomes. Hospital funding has not kept up with inflation rates during the past four years and RN staffing levels in many hospitals have put patients at risk, says ONA. Hospitals are looking to balance budgets by replacing RNs with less-skilled workers, leaving workloads unmanageable for nurses and dangerous for patients. ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says there is a dire need for more RNs to meet the increased care needs of the complex, unstable patients in Ontario hospitals.
January 15: ONA has asked the Standing Committee on Finance & Economic Affairs to call on the provincial government to hire more RNs (Oakville Beaver, January 15, 2014). President Linda Haslam-Stroud, RN, said in a media release following the committee meeting that it’s a “shocking little secret” that Ontario has the second-lowest RN-to-population ratio, with just seven RNs per 1,000 Ontarians. Jo Anne Shannon, RN addressed the committee where ONA called for funding of a multi-year action plan to hire and maintain RN positions. Shannon told the committee of cuts that hurt patients and cited research showing the direct link between RN staffing levels and improved health outcomes for patients.
January 14: ONA has called on the provincial government to fund a minimum staffing standard in long-term care to keep residents safer and healthier in long-term care facilities (Nurse Newsline, January 14, 2014). In a presentation to the Standing Committee on Finance & Economic Affairs, Bev Mathers, ONA’s Labour Relations Manager, cited research that shows the direct link between nurse staffing levels and resident safety and health outcomes. ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says that it’s a “shocking little secret” that Ontario has the second-lowest RN to population ratio in the country, with just seven RNs per 1,000 Ontarians. She notes that in Ontario, a long-term care RN can find herself responsible for coordinating care plans for up to 300 residents. “It’s an unsafe and untenable situation and our frail, elderly residents deserve far better.”
January 14: The Ontario Nurses’ Association is calling on the provincial government to hire more RNs (CFTR AM, January 14, 2014). ONA’s Vicki McKenna says that when compared to the rest of the country, Ontario has a very low RN-to-population ratio. “We are the second-lowest ratio of registered nurse to population in the country,” she said. ONA says that RN understaffing has led to significant challenges in delivering safe, quality patient care. They’re trying to get their message to the Liberal government through pre-budget presentations.
January 13: RCI (CBC International) has interviewed Bev Mathers, ONA’s Labour Relations Manager, following her presentation to the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs (January 13, 2014). The Ontario Nurses’ Association is calling for a minimum staffing standard for provincial long-term care facilities. ONA says that whether there are 60 patients or 300, the current standard is one registered nurse, despite the rapidly rising severity of the needs of residents. A study has shown that Ontario’s staffing levels are among the lowest in the industrialized world.
January 13: CBC News has obtained a copy of a memo to the Ontario Nurses’ Association from hospital administration that shows the Thunder Bay Health Sciences Centre is cutting nursing staff in its ER (January 13, 2014). The memo says that due to “budgetary constraints,” the equivalent of 5.5 full-time nursing positions are being cut from the ER. ONA Vice-President Vicki McKenna says she doubts the hospital’s assertion that patient care won’t be affected. “The reality is they will have fewer nurses in the ER…and I’m concerned about how they will manage the patients, the volume of people that they’re seeing.” The hospital says that four of the positions are being transferred to a special nursing team that works on all floors of the hospital and the remaining 1.5 jobs were funded on a temporary basis by the province under its pay-for-results program. McKenna urges the people of Thunder Bay to pay close attention to what’s happening in their local hospital, because it does “affect health care for you and your family.”
January 7: RNs have identified continuing professional practice and workload concerns affecting patient care at Rouge Valley Health System’s post-acute care unit (Nurses Newsline, January 7, 2014). ONA members have now taken the step of calling in an IAC to look at RN staffing levels and make recommendations. ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud noted that RNs have a professional obligation to notify the hospital when they cannot provide safe patient care. Nurses say the hospital has replaced half the RN and RPN positions in the unit with unregulated care providers, leaving the nurse-to-patient ratios unsafe, unmanageable and dangerous for patients.
January 7: The Ontario Nurses’ Association is assessing RN staffing levels at Rouge Valley Health System (SKDO AM, January 7, 2014). ONA First Vice-President Vicki McKenna says there’s been some skill mix changes, a decrease of RPNs and RNs, and an increase in PSWs. She notes that “we need everybody in the health care system working, but we’re not easily substituted one for the other.” RNs are concerned about workloads and patient care and are asking the province to step in. A recent change has lowered the number of RNs while increasing the number of unregulated health care providers. The hearing will run until Thursday.
January 7: A hearing is taking place this week at the Rouge Valley Health System to determine whether the hospital has reduced the number of RNs in a unit at the Centenary campus to an unsafe level (Scarborough Mirror, January 7, 2014). The Independent Assessment Committee is looking at conditions in the post-acute care unit after the Ontario Nurses’ Association requested the hearing, noting that it had tried but failed to resolve staffing concerns with the hospital. ONA says the patients have complex medical needs and that half the RNs and RPNs in the unit have been replaced by personal support workers. ONA First Vice-President Vicki McKenna says that because the PSWs aren’t qualified to perform some tasks, such as changing dressings, the remaining nurses are finding it challenging to perform their duties because they’re “being pulled in so many directions.”
December 11: ONA members braved freezing temperatures in Thunder Bay to show their support, joining striking SEIU personal support workers on the picket line (tbnewswatch.com, December 11, 2013.) The striking workers, who have been without a contract since April, are demanding better working conditions and “a living wage” says local employee representative Bill Jobin. About 4,500 workers employed by Red Cross Care Partners across Ontario went on strike Wednesday.
December 10: The Ontario Nurses’ Association has launched a new ad campaign to call for an end to the stigmatization of nurses who choose not to have a flu vaccine (Canadian Healthcare Network, December 10, 2013). ONA is also calling for the provincial government to work collaboratively to develop a province-wide, comprehensive and truly effective policy to fight the spread of influenza. ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says a number of Ontario hospitals are trying to coerce nurses into having a flu vaccine or be publicly stigmatized if they choose not to have the shot. The ads note that it “takes more than a shot in the arm” to prevent the flu. ONA believes that if hospitals are serious about slowing the spread of flu, they must use evidence-based infection-control measures and implement a range of other measures.
November 28: Tim Hudak’s Tories are unifying unions, writes Toronto Star columnist Martin Regg Cohn (November 28, 2013). While the house of labour is a “house divided,” there will be no glimpses of behind-the-scenes “bitterness” at the Ontario Federation of Labour convention this week. The OFL has been in turmoil since president Sid Ryan took over four years ago; he has been acclaimed president again and “dodged the bullet fired by dissident unionists plotting his ouster a few months ago.” The umbrella group represents more than one million workers from 54 unions, but two of Ontario’s largest unions – the Ontario Nurses’ Association and the Ontario Public Service Employees Union – have pulled out of the OFL and stopped paying dues. The OFL must try to present a united front as it “tries to rally a demoralized union movement in anticipation of a final confrontation with the opposition Progressive Conservatives.” Ryan spoke out at the convention about the Tories mounting an unprecedented attack on workers’ rights and wages. Cohn writes that many PC members are having second thoughts about the anti-union strategy. Hudak’s attacks have “opened a wedge against himself,” according to some. Hudak has resulted in the “moribund” Working Families Coalition revival and union bashing isn’t even a winner with the general population or the Tory base. Cohn concludes that the “anti-union narrative has wrought newfound unity in a long divided labour movement – misfiring with the middle class and firing up the working class.”
November 22: Facing a predicted shortfall of $290, 572 for its 2014 programs budget, the Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit is requesting a two per cent increase in funding from the Ontario government (Brockville Recorder and Times, November 22, 2013.) In 2014, staffing costs at the health unit will rise 3.5 per cent compared to the 2013 budget as the cost of wages and benefits go up. Paula Stewart, the health unit’s medical officer of health, says that their ability to offer certain programs will be affected by the shortfall but that careful planning and management of staff may help mitigate cutbacks. "We feel that, with very careful management of our term positions and our pregnancy leaves and our permanent positions, we'll be able to meet the budget.” Other factors that may affect the health unit’s budget next year include upcoming contract negotiations with the Ontario Nurses’ Association. Stewart says that there are also concerns that if a provincial election is called before the summer, when funding is made official, it will affect how much support they receive.
November 19: A letter to the editor of the Orillia Packet & Times (November 19, 2013) from ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud warns that RNs are deeply concerned about the impact on residents of the closure of one of the hospital’s operating rooms. Haslam-Stroud writes that contrary to the reassuring tone of the hospital’s CEO, services and wait times will be affected. Women who require gynecological procedures will be impacted because the equipment required has been deemed too expensive. Orillia residents are losing local access to important procedures, facing hospital cuts and will likely experience increased wait times. She urges readers to speak to their local MPP now, before the services are gone forever. The community of Orillia, she says, deserve better.
November 16: Nova Scotia Nurses’ Union president Janet Hazelton says that VON, long-term care and acute care nurses in the Capital District Health Authority have ratified a new tentative agreement (Truro Daily News, November 16, 2013.) The nurses will receive a 2.5 per cent increase retroactive to November 2012 and a three per cent increase as of November 2013. Hazelton says she is especially pleased that the union has negotiated safe staffing language, modeled on the successful blueprint negotiated by the Ontario Nurses’ Association.
November 16: A letter to the editor of the Toronto Star (November 16, 2013) from ONA Vice-President Andy Summers says that Ontario hospitals are very efficient compared with other provinces. He writes that the column by Matthew Mendelsohn and Will Falk ably points out that the doomsday predictions of some political factions have tried to convince us that private, for-profit health care is the way forward, but these predictions have been proven wrong. While Ontario’s registered nurses and allied health professionals very much appreciate the fact that the column points out that health care costs have been dropping for a long time, the decrease in costs hasn’t come without sacrifices by both those working in health care and our patients. Summers says the main drivers of health care costs are physicians’ fees and pharmaceuticals. RNs are the ones who have borne a large part of the burden of cost cutting, leaving patient care impacted. There are fewer RNs working in the province now than there were in 2010, and new nurses are often in part-time positions. Summers writes that ensuring that patients receive high-quality RN care is a money-saver. Patients will suffer fewer complications and experience better health outcomes. Public health care that puts tax dollars where they go the farthest – in front-line care, not corporate profits – will always be sustainable and the best value for Ontarians.
November 14: ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says that individually and independently, the nurses of Ontario will determine whether they want to have a flu vaccine (CBC Radio 1 Sudbury, November 14, 2013). Sudbury’s hospital has launched a campaign to have workers get the vaccine; while it’s not going to be mandatory, if nurses fail to have it, they’ll have to wear a mask around patients. Haslam-Stroud says “the science is very mixed on the efficacy of the vaccine and how much coverage we’re actually getting.” Sudbury and seven other “rogue hospitals” are now “coercing our nurses to take the vaccine by telling them that they’ll either be suspended or terminated if they do not wear a mask.” She says concerns include whether the mask will give patients a false sense of security; the masks, she says, are “not any help to the nurse or the patient.” ONA is working with the Premier’s office and Minister of Health to build a “collective framework that’s going to not only protect our patients but respect our nurses in a full influenza policy that we can implement across the province.”
November 12: A merger of The Scarborough Hospital with Rouge Valley Health System has been approved by the boards of each hospital (thestar.com, November 12, 2013). Ontario Nurses’ Association representative Susan Brickell said that she fears patient care is suffering and argued that the province needs to provide more funding to hospitals. "The population thinks they are getting great care, but they aren't," she said, explaining that the number of registered nurses working at the hospital has been reduced by 75 in each of the last two years. She said registered nurses are being replaced with registered practical nurses who have less education and a smaller skill set. The merger would mean four sites for the facility, and Scarborough CEO Robert Biron says that with size comes an enormous amount of influence.”
November 12: Critics are charging that a secret document that was leaked to the Toronto Star is further evidence that PC party leader Tim Hudak is bent on undermining unions (November 12, 2013). Both politicians and labour leaders were quick to condemn the leader’s detailed election calendar and its plan to drive down wages and hurt the economy. A dominant theme in the document was labour, including “so-called workers’ choice” that would allow unionized employees to opt out of paying dues. Labour Minister Yasir Naqvi said the document is proof that the “centerpiece of the Hudak PC platform is their plan to kill jobs and drive down wages.” OPSEU President Smokey Thomas says he hopes that Ontarians will “reject this kind of negative thinking.” Sid Ryan, President of the Ontario Federation of Labour, says he believes Hudak’s hatred of unions comes from the work of the Working Families coalition, comprised of unions such as the Ontario Nurses’ Association. Patrick Dillon, who helped launched the coalition, says he finds the PC document very troubling. “To me, it is just not the way you build a society. It is a bad feeling in the pit of the stomach to think there are people who would seek leadership based on what they can do to people, not what they can do for people.”
November 9: The Ontario Nurses’ Association has fought against any mandatory flu shots for its members, but three hospitals in the province have “forged ahead” to do more to force its workers to be vaccinated (St. Catharines Standard, November 9, 2013.) The editorial opinion piece says Bluewater Health, London Health Sciences Centre and North Bay Regional Health Centre deserve our praise for protecting the infirm from contracting the flu from those who care for them. Nurses, doctors and other health care workers sometimes pass on the flu virus, which can kill patients. In the U.S., flu shots are mandatory and in nursing homes and hospitals in which staff were vaccinated, mortality among residents dropped 29 per cent.
November 9: Dozens of protestors in a traveling caravan were out on the weekend to call for health services to be saved in Scarborough and Durham Region (Toronto Sun, November 9, 2013.) Both Scarborough Hospital and Rouge Valley Health System have cut millions from their budgets because of looming deficits. The Ontario Health Coalition says this has had an impact on services. Ontario Nurses’ Association representative Susan Brickell says 70 nursing positions have been cut from Scarborough. “These are highly specialized nurses,” she said. “You’re not a jack-of-all-trades as a nurse…you take additional courses, training and experience…then you’re told your jobs are done, find something else.”
November 7: Hospitals are talking about requiring health care workers to get a flu shot because they’re “tired of waiting for Ontario to protect the vulnerable from deadly flu” (Brantford Expositor, November 7, 2013.) The measure would save lives, but it angers health care unions that have fought against mandatory flu shots, says the report. ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud has chastised the Canadian Nurses Association after it endorsed mandatory flu shots for health care workers.
November 7: ONA Vice-President Andy Summers says nurses need to talk with their colleagues “with a flyer” in their hand to fight the proposed merger of The Scarborough Hospital and Rouge Valley Health System. Summers says there is no way services won’t be cut at both hospitals following a merger, even though the community has been told a merged hospital will “enhance” services (Scarborough Mirror, November 7, 2013.) Nurse Joanne Frazer says that if Scarborough’s three birthing centres are merged, she will lose her job. Workers told stories of hospital spending cuts and how they’re causing patients to suffer. Susan Brickell, RN, says hospitals can’t afford to keep cutting resources on the front lines of health care. “This isn’t us protecting our own jobs,” she said. “This is us protecting what we know is right.”
November 6: RBNonline.ca has posted a report on efforts by ONA and other nurses to cancel MTV Canada’s new “reality” show about nurses, Scrubbing In (November 6, 2013). The report interviews ONA Vice-President Andy Summers and quotes President Linda Haslam-Stroud’s open letter.
November 6: Ontario hospitals are talking about requiring health care workers to be vaccinated against the flu (London Free Press, November 6, 2013.) Half of hospital workers and one-quarter of long-term care workers do not get the vaccine now, and Dr. Allison McGeer, a microbiologist and director of infectious diseases at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto, says this leads to illness and death for some patients, especially seniors, young kids and those with compromised immune systems. In 2007, North Bay Hospital sent nurses home without pay when they refused to get the flu shot; the Ontario Nurses’ Association challenged the actions but lost before an arbitrator. This year, hospitals are discussing requiring those who don’t have the shot to wear a mask after a community outbreak. ONA has been “steadfast in its resistance,” and President Linda Haslam-Stroud says, “It is simply unacceptable for the [Canadian Nurses Association] to adopt a position that has been found to be akin to an assault on health care workers.”
November 1: In a letter to the editor in the Windsor Star, cancer-survivor and former Windsor Regional Hospital (WRH) patient Paul Sinasac offers his own congratulations to Kerri Drouillard and Debbie Lucier, WRH oncology nurses who were recently recognized for their compassion and work with patients (November 1, 2013.) Sinasac was a patient in WRH’s Cancer Clinic and expresses his gratitude to all of the staff and volunteers who made his experience “just a bit easier.” He would like to thank all the nurses for the “outstanding job” they do. “The nurses all have so much patience, care and compassion. They were always there to answer a question, hold a hand, get me a warm blanket and be a waitress, as well as tenderly administering the drugs that would treat my illness.”
November 1: Members of ONA Local 24 attended an Ontario Health Coalition (OHC) meeting at the Ajax Public Library to express their concern over the proposed merger of Rouge Valley Health Services and The Scarborough Hospital and the potential for more cuts to service (Ajax News Advertiser, November 1, 2013.) “What will happen to us with the merger, I would say we’re kind of a sitting duck,” said Local 24’s Bargaining Unit President Carol Oates. “Officials say it won’t affect services but we don’t know what that means. We need to watch what’s going on. I urge the community to get involved because you do have a good hospital and we need to keep services here.” Rouge Valley’s president and CEO, Rik Ganderton, has stated that services at the hospital’s Ajax site will not be moved if a merger does take place. But Natalie Mehra, the OHC’s director, maintains that budget cuts will mean cuts to service whether or not the merger goes forward.
October 30: Despite being labeled a reality show, MTV’s newest program Scrubbing In offers a “distorted picture” of the nursing profession (Toronto Star, October 30, 2013.) In a letter to the editor, Ontario Nurses’ Association President Linda Haslam-Stroud says that many of the actions depicted on the show’s premier –including nurses practicing inserting IVs into each other’s arms- would be unacceptable in the real world where nurses are held to high professional standards. Haslam-Stroud says that MTV’s defense that the show is meant “to entertain, not inform” rings false when they promote it as a “reality” show. “If MTV truly wants to air a reality series about nurses, maybe they should try following one of our members around on a shift, as she or he races from patient to patient to provide quality care under very stressful conditions. Maybe then their viewers will understand nurses’ true role and value in our health care system, not this highly fictitious account.”
October 28: On Oct. 18, representatives from the Ontario Nurses’ Association attended a rally to show their support for legal aid staff lawyers who are fighting to unionize (Law Times, October 28, 2013.) The lawyers recently had their bid to secure collective bargaining rights rejected by their employer, Legal Aid Ontario (LAO.) Current labour laws maintain that lawyers must have voluntary recognition from their employer in order to unionize. “LAO does not have any legal obligation to voluntarily recognize a trade union to represent employees to whom the [Ontario Labour Relations Act] does not apply, nor to enter into a bargaining relationship with a trade union entirely outside the established process and structure of the OLRA,” wrote LAO head Bob Ward in a response to the lawyers. ONA is the latest group to offer their support to the lawyers. “Nurses know what it’s like to be told, ‘no,’ you don’t deserve the same democratic right to collectively bargain your working conditions as similar groups of employees that are male-dominated,” said ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud in a press release.
October 24: The Ontario Nurses’ Association has launched a petition in the hopes of getting MTV Canada to cancel its new show, Scrubbing In, a “Jersey Shore-esque” reality program that the union says stereotypes nurses as “sexy and promiscuous”(Toronto Sun, October 24, 2013.)
October 24: Hamilton boasts a “vibrant medical and nursing community” with leaders for both Ontario’s doctors and nurses calling the region home (Hamilton Spectator, October 24, 2013.) ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud, RN and Dr. Scott Wooder, who is the leader of the Ontario Medical Association, both come from Hamilton. Wooder says that the area’s “high-quality academic hospitals” and university encourage the development of leaders.
October 23: Scrubbing In, the new MTV “reality show” that has nurses across North America up in arms is set to premier tonight despite widespread calls for its cancellation (680News.com, October 23, 2013.)Various nursing organizations including ONA, the Canadian Nurses Association and the RNAO have appealed to broadcasters to block the program and an online petition registered in the U.S. where the show is filmed has reached over 15, 000 signatures.
October 24: A new reality show’s cast of “hellraisers” and “heartbreakers” is raising red flags with nurses across North America (Windsor Star, October 24, 2013.) Scrubbing In is described as “Nurses Gone Wild” by Windsor RPN Gregg Sassine; many nurses fear that this questionable portrayal of nurses as party-animals will have negative ramifications on the profession. Both ONA and the RNAO are calling for the cancellation of the show. While they understand the need for a work life balance, the organizations maintain that nurses are held to a higher standard and that this type of representation undermines the public’s trust and respect for the profession. "As nurses, we have an obligation to our regulatory body to maintain decorum," says ONA’s First Vice-President Vicki McKenna. "Nurses are held out at a different standard. Our College of Nurses practice and standards documents are really clear: They say nurses have a duty to uphold themselves in a manner that reflects well on the profession."
October 23: ONA members Kerri Drouillard and Debbie Lucier were recently honoured for the compassionate and exemplary care they give their patients, working as oncology nurses at Windsor Regional Hospital (WRH) (Windsor Star, October 23, 2013.)The two were nominated for the award, which is made possible by the Daniel Johnson Memorial Education Fund, by their peers. Collette Clark, WRH’s in-patient oncology manager praised their compassion and clinical expertise. Honourable mentions went to fellow nurses Sandy Carrick, Melissa Lot and Mike Roberts. The Daniel Johnson Memorial Education Fund helps provide training for nurses; each year they recognize outstanding nurses.
October 23: MTV Canada is defending its new reality series Scrubbing In, saying that it is meant to entertain rather than inform, but nurses and nursing students are finding it far from entertaining (CBC News Ottawa, October 23, 2012.) Algonquin College nursing student Ainsley Saumure explains, “if we had this behaviour in the clinical setting, we would--we wouldn't be allowed to continue what we're doing.” Nursing organizations across the country are calling for the cancellation of the program that they feel reinforces negative stereotypes and gives viewers an inaccurate view of the profession.
October 21: Members of the Ontario Nurses’ Association were present to talk about health and safety in the nursing profession at a recent meeting with provincial health ministers from across the country and representatives from the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions (CFNU) and the Canadian Nurses Association (Canadian OH&S News, October 21, 2013.) Flu prevention for health-care workers was one of the main topics discussed at the meeting. Nurses “have the highest rate of sick time,” said CFNU President Linda Silas. “And it always gets worse in the winter, of course, which is very costly.”
October 22: ONA has joined forces with nurses and nursing organizations across North America to push for the cancellation of MTV Canada’s newest docu-drama Scrubbing In (Humber News, October 22, 2013.) The organization that employs the show’s nurses claims that their intent is to “create a greater awareness about the heroic work nurses do every day” and promote the profession to a younger generation. But professional nurses are objecting to the negative stereotypes portrayed on the program where young, attractive nurses are “sexually provocative and promiscuous.” "This is really hanging the banner about young nurses and says this is the image of nurses today," warns ONA’s First Vice-President Vicki McKenna. In the face of a worldwide nursing shortage, ONA is concerned that people will be put off by this unrealistic portrayal of the profession. By Tuesday afternoon, a petition to cancel the show had over 10,000 signatures.
October 23: The organization that trained nurses for MTV Canada’s controversial new program Scrubbing In is defending the young professionals, saying that six cast members have experience in trauma centre ICUs (Waterloo Region Record, October 23, 2013.) Nursing organizations from across North America are calling for the cancellation of the new show which is filmed in California, saying that the highly sexualized nurses portrayed reinforce negative stereotypes and devalue the work of professional nurses.
October 22: MTV Canada is defending their new series Scrubbing In against accusations that the program undermines the professional image of nurses (Toronto Star, October 22, 2013.) The reality series, which follows the work and play of nine young, attractive travel nurses working in a California hospital, has come under fire from nursing organizations across Canada including the Ontario Nurses’ Association for perpetuating negative stereotypes that nurses are “sexy and promiscuous” and for creating an unrealistic image of what real-world nursing entails. MTV Canada responded to calls to cancel the show saying that “the program should not be considered representative of the nursing profession in general. Just like fans of Grey's Anatomy, we believe our viewers will see Scrubbing In for what it is - a TV series meant to entertain, not inform." Aya Healthcare, the organization that trained the show’s nurses, issued a statement defending their nurses. "The featured travel nurses represent a new generation of nurses who have recently entered the workforce. They are highly trained and deeply passionate about nursing," the statement said. While Aya Healthcare believes that the program will inspire a younger generation to choose nursing as a career, ONA feels that it will have the opposite effect, discouraging serious professionals from becoming nurses.
October 22: ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud is calling on Ontario nurses to push for the cancellation of new MTV reality series Scrubbing In (Global News, October 22, 2013.) She says that the series, which follows nine young “travel nurses” in California at work and “at play,” is “insulting” and reinforces negative stereotypes about nursing. “I am outraged that these select people of dubious moral character are chosen as representatives of the nursing workforce,” says Haslam-Stroud. A letter to nurses from ONA includes contact information for the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council and Bell Media. Nursing students from across the province have joined in the campaign against the show saying that it “sets us back 50 years.” Aya Healthcare, the organization that employs the nurses featured on the show, issued a release saying that it believes the show will “inspire the generation of young people watching MTV to consider nursing as a possible career choice.”
October 22: The Ontario Nurses’ Association is calling for the cancellation of a new MTV reality show, Scrubbing In, because of its questionable portrayal of the nursing profession (The Globe and Mail, October 22, 2013.) ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says the show -which follows the lives of attractive, young, “hard-partying” nurses in California- is “insulting and simply unacceptable to those of us who use our skills every day to provide quality patient care.” ONA feels that this show perpetuates negative stereotypes against nurses, devalues their work and discourages qualified newcomers from joining the profession. Other organizations including the Canadian Nurses Association have expressed their concerns and an online petition to cancel the show that started in the U.S. has already exceeded 8,000 signatures. ONA encourages its members and other concerned parties to sign the petition.
October 17: ONA Local President Susan Brickell told a group of concerned citizens that the proposed merger between The Scarborough Hospital and Rouge Valley Health System is “all about money” (Scarborough Mirror, October 17, 2013). She said to the group that she can’t “put a dollar figure on my health care needs.” Concerned citizens met with the local chapter of the Ontario Health Coalition. The OHC warned that the area faces “the largest hospital cuts in Ontario at this time” and hopes that through public meetings, citizens will build a movement that will receive adequate funding for the hospitals. Brickell and others say cuts at the hospitals have already cost jobs, closed ORs, closed beds and led to longer wait times for patients. Dianne Brunton, RN, a Local executive member of ONA, said these kinds of changes have made it “a very frightening time” to be in health care. “People are desperately worried about jobs” and for the quality of patient care.
October 11: A new campaign against hospital cuts is being launched today by nurses, patients and employees of Rouge Valley Health System and The Scarborough Hospital (Scarborough Mirror, October 11, 2013). The Ontario Nurses’ Association and OPSEU are involved, and the campaign comes as the two hospitals are studying a merger under the supervision of the Central East LHIN. The Ontario Health Coalition says the purpose of the merger is to ration services at area hospitals. Kim Johnston says “it will mean more cuts to come.” The group will hold a media conference on Tuesday morning in the McGregor Park Recreation Centre.
October 10: The Ontario Nurses’ Association is calling for a moratorium on cuts to registered nurses (CBC Radio 1, October 10, 2013). ONA cites a new report that says Ontario has the second-lowest RN-to-population ratio in the country. President Linda Haslam-Stroud says that as the number of RNs decline, so too does the quality of care in Ontario hospitals.
October 8: Nursing leaders from the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions (CFNU) and the Canadian Nurses Association met with provincial health ministers last week to highlight the importance of establishing a culture of safety for front-line workers (CanadianHealthcareNetwork.ca, October 8, 2013). The nurses held an open, productive discussion and a briefing session with the ministers. Nurses stressed the need for collaboration between federal, provincial and territorial governments, employers, employees and all organizations representing health care providers. Ontario Nurses’ Association President Linda Haslam-Stroud, RN said that “ten years after the outbreak of SARS in Ontario, it is important that the lessons learned not be forgotten. Ensuring that when an outbreak occurs we have enough nurses and front-line medical staff who are equipped with the tools they need to do the job could be the difference between containment and mass infection.”
October 10: Niagara Health System supervisor Kevin Smith says the hospital is facing a financial crunch and will “look inward” to balance its budget (St. Catharines Standard, October 10, 2013). The NHS is looking at a $12-million shortfall and will receive no new money from the province. Smith says cuts to nursing staff, closing beds and/or reducing services is the last option, but hard choices will have to be made. Ontario Nurses’ Association Local 26 President Loretta Tirabassi-Olinski says that simply cutting nurses or eliminating some of the 90 currently vacant nursing positions won’t guarantee savings. “This isn’t just an issue with the NHS,” she said. “I think hospital administrations across Ontario cut back on RNs to balance their budgets and they think they are doing a good job, but they really aren’t.” While full-time RNs are expensive to hire, they are “where you get the most bang for your buck.” More RNs result in better patient outcomes, resulting in fewer readmissions.
October 8: ONA Vice-President Karen Bertrand says that her union is “pleased” that RNs aren’t impacted by layoff notices issued by Leamington District Memorial Hospital (Windsor Star, October 8, 2013). The hospital announced that it may lose funding for 10 rehabilitation beds and possibly have to cut 30 staff. The funding is for the hospital’s assess and restore beds. Bertrand says there is “a lot of uncertainty. The LHIN is trying to get this funding.” The assess and restore program helps patients recover after being hospitalized for a serious illness – it’s a buffer once the patient has recovered to transitioning back home or to a long-term care facility. The Ministry of Health says it has received the proposal to extend funding and is reviewing it.
October 3: Premier Kathleen Wynne has withdrawn Liberal support for controversial PC party legislation that would allow EllisDon to have relief from a deal that forces it to hire only unionized workers (Toronto Star, October 3, 2013). She said that Bill 74 isn’t needed because an Ontario Divisional Court decision overturned the Ontario Labour Relations Board ruling that held the firm to the 1958 agreement. She says she may have to rethink her decision should a legal appeal be allowed. Tory MPP Monte McNaughton accused Wynne of being bullied by the construction unions. Tory MPP Randy Hillier had warned his party not to proceed with Bill 74 because it looked like the support was money-driven. Ironically, while the Tories are “being accused of cozying up to EllisDon for financial interests, Hudak earlier Wednesday said it is time to limit what third parties can spend on elections.” Hudak continues to rail against the Working Families Coalition, which includes members such as the Ontario Nurses’ Association; the coalition spent $2.1 million on ads attacking Hudak in the 2011 election.
October 2: The Manitoulin Health Centre has announced the merger of Ontario Nurses’ Association union locals between the two hospitals (Manitoulin Expositor, October 2, 2013). The board was informed of the change, which came as the two separate Bargaining Units representing the RNs amalgamated over the summer, at its September meeting. Mary Lynn Wright, chief nursing officer, says that prior to amalgamation, RNs who worked part-time at one site but wanted to work more hours at the other site were placed on two separate seniority lists and had to pay separate sets of union dues. Members of the new Bargaining Unit will now see a merged seniority list and joint committee work between the two sites.
September 30: A recent arbitration decision related to workers with allergies makes it clear that employers must accommodate those who suffer from them (Northern Exposure, September 30, 2013). In the decision regarding London Health Sciences Centre vs. the Ontario Nurses’ Association, a nurse with a severe latex allergy had to be admitted to emergency when she accidently touched a latex elastic band while collecting vials for blood samples. She had informed her employer that she had the allergy two years earlier and had since suffered three other incidents. LHSC had substituted non-latex products and required that the nurse carry an EpiPen. Following the fourth exposure, the hospital declared it could no longer guarantee her safety and refused to let her return to work. ONA grieved the decision, and the arbitrator ruled that she was to return to work in a non-nursing officer position and to be paid for that position rather than as a nurse.
Fall 2013: Your Plan at Work (Fall 2013, Vol. 26, Issue 3), HOOPP’s member newsletter, has featured ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud and Director of Labour Relations/Chief Negotiator Dan Anderson for being awarded with CFNU Bread and Roses awards. The piece says that Linda has won the top award in recognition of her many years of effective leadership and advocacy work. She has contributed to policy and decision making, enhancing public awareness, participated in positive media and other public events, lobbied government and educated members and the public in her role as ONA President. Dan has “dedicated his career” to advocating for public medical health care by not only improving the working conditions of RNs, but also fighting for the maintenance of Ontario’s publicly administered, funded and accessible health care system.
September 9, 2013: ONA is asking the Premier and Ministry of Health for a meeting to develop strategies to keep nurses safe on the job (Canadian Safety Reporter, September 9, 2013). The union says its request was spurred by a Southlake Regional Health Centre incident where a nurse was attacked by a patient who also injured three others. ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says her members have reported being verbally harassed, pinched, scratched, beaten, sexually assaulted, and even “having their hair pulled out of their head,” notes ONA’s occupational health and safety expert, Erna Bujna. Bujna says there have been “lots” of Ministry of Labour orders for facilities to write policies and do risk assessments, but these are “paper-pushing exercises that do little to protect our nurses.” She wants the MOL to begin to really enforce the Occupational Health and Safety Act when employers and supervisors fail to comply with legislation. “They need to set deterrence and start laying charges,” she says.
September 10, 2013: Linda Haslam-Stroud, RN and Vicki McKenna, RN have been acclaimed to serve additional terms as leaders of the Ontario Nurses’ Association (CanadianHealthcareNetwork.ca, September 10, 2013). Haslam-Stroud is a renal transplant nurse from Hamilton and will serve a record sixth two-year term as President. She is a passionate health care advocate, political activist and says she is incredibly honoured to hold the position. McKenna will serve a fifth consecutive term as First Vice-President. She is an adult and pediatric day surgery nurse from London and has been an active ONA member for 33 years. ONA Chief Executive Officer/Chief Administrative Officer Michael Balagus notes that “Linda and Vicki clearly have the strong support of the membership, the board and staff as they continue to work tirelessly on behalf of members and the patients who rely on the quality care they provide.”
September 9, 2013: York resident Linda Haslam-Stroud, a renal transplant RN from Hamilton, has been acclaimed to serve a record sixth two-term as President of the Ontario Nurses’ Association (Sachem, September 9, 2013). ONA is the country’s largest nurses’ union, and Haslam-Stroud says she is “incredibly honoured” to hold the position. She adds that ONA’s 60,000 registered nurses and allied health professionals, as well as more than 14,000 nursing student affiliates, have her commitment to advocate for them and their patients, clients and residents. Haslam-Stroud is also past president of the Grand River Gymmies; she was instrumental in building the Gymmies facility in Haldimand. She and her husband Murray Stroud have two daughters, Adele Churchill and Amy Stroud.
September 5, 2013: Hamilton renal transplant nurse Linda Haslam-Stroud has been acclaimed to serve a record sixth term as Ontario Nurses’ Association president (Hamilton Spectator, September 5, 2013). She will lead ONA’s 60,000 registered nurses and allied health professionals as well as more than 14,000 nursing student affiliates. Haslam-Stroud has been a union leader for 34 years and became active when she was initially refused a day off for her wedding. She won that battle and has been advocating for the profession ever since in a variety of positions. Haslam-Stroud says she expects that in this term as President, she will see cuts, attacks on unions and a wide variety of changes to the health-care system.
September 3, 2013: The Barrie Examiner (September 3, 2013) reports that it was a “different world” when thousands of people joined the Typographical Union’s parade in Toronto in 1872 to support the fight for a nine-hour workday. The event stands out as a “testament to the community support unions have received during the past 141 years.” Yesterday, more than 1,000 people joined the Barrie union celebration to remind themselves and the public at large that unions are fighting for more than their own workers’ rights. Ontario Nurses’ Association Local 134 co-ordinator Kim Sweeney says she doesn’t remember “what it’s like to work without all the benefits we have now.” She helped organize the event, and said that it is a good reminder to all that unions fight to benefit all workers. “A union really transcends the workplace, because issues workers face are all the same,” said co-organizer Joanie Cameron-Pritchett. Sweeney points out that traditionally, nurses were women and have been strong advocates for women and children’s rights.
September 2, 2013: Canada Newswire’s daybook (September 2, 2013) notes that ONA members would be participating in Labour Day celebrations. The Toronto parade assembled at 9:30 on University Avenue and ended at Lamport Stadium.