Our Board of Directors comprises the Provincial President, First Vice-President and five Regional Vice-Presidents. ONA’s Chief Executive Officer serves as the Board Secretary.
Each Vice-President oversees one region which is geographically broken down by provincial districts. As an ONA member, you elect your Board of Directors, President and First Vice-President.
Region 1 Districts of Kenora, Rainy River, Thunder Bay, Algoma, Temiskaming, Nipissing, Cochrane, Manitoulin, Regional Municipality of Sudbury.
Region 2 Counties of Prescott, Russell, Glengarry, Renfrew, Lanark, Grenville, Leeds, Dundas, Stormont, Frontenac, Hastings, Prince Edward, Lennox, Addington, Haliburton, Victoria, Peterborough, Northumberland, Regional Municipalities of Ottawa Carlton and Kingston.
Region 3 Regional Municipality of Durham, Municipalities of York, Peel, and Toronto.
Region 4 Counties of Simcoe, Brant, Wellington, Dufferin, Haldimand, Norfolk, Regional Municipalities of Waterloo, Halton, Hamilton-Wentworth, Niagara, District Municipality of Muskoka and District of Parry Sound.
Region 5 Counties of Bruce, Grey, Huron, Perth, Oxford, Middlesex, Lambton, Elgin, Kent and Essex.
Vicki McKenna, RN
Provincial Office, 1-800-387-5580 (toll-free) or 416-964-8833
Vicki McKenna, RN, is in her second term as the Provincial President of the Ontario Nurses’ Association (ONA). Previously, she served six terms (a total of 12 years) on the ONA Board of Directors as the First Vice-President.
McKenna is a professional, passionate, honest and articulate spokesperson on behalf of ONA’s 68,000 RNs and health-care professionals, and more than 18,000 nursing students, representing them with government, employers and the public.
She has been an ONA member for more than 30 years, and an ONA activist for 20-plus years. A registered nurse since 1979, McKenna served in various positions on the Local 100 Executive Committee at London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC), including as Local 100 Coordinator. She also has been on many ONA provincial committees and teams, including hospital central negotiating teams.
As ONA President, McKenna advocates for the improvement of the social, economic and general welfare of registered and graduate nurses and health-care professionals. She also works to ensure that employers respect ONA members for their professional skills and provide a workplace environment that allows members to maintain high standards and the safe quality care that their patients, clients and residents deserve.
McKenna believes ONA’s success at lobbying the government to improve conditions for nurses – and thus, quality patient care – lies in using our collective voice through meetings with MPPs, public dialogue and media relations. She feels strongly that ONA members can leverage their power by working with allied associations and unions.
“Working on the front lines, nurses are experts on health-care issues and delivery of care. Enjoying the respect and confidence of the public, nurses must exercise that voice to advocate for patient care, their profession, and to maintain and improve our health-care system,” she says.
McKenna has worked as an RN in the day surgery unit at LHSC, working with both adult and pediatric patients and their families.
Cathryn Hoy, RN
Provincial Office, 1-800-387-5580 (toll free) or 416-964-1979 ext.7755
Cathryn Hoy, RN, is serving her second term as First Vice-President. Previously, she held the position of Region 2 Vice-President on the Ontario Nurses’ Association’s (ONA) Board of Directors, representing nurses in eastern Ontario communities.
An RN for more than 20 years, Hoy has extensive experience working in many units as a staff nurse at Kingston General Hospital, including neonatal intensive care, pediatrics, women’s health, emergency, medicine, oncology and surgery. She has also been a clinical educator.
Hoy has served as the Region 2 Vice-President on the Board, representing the nurses in eastern Ontario, and was Local Coordinator for Local 99 at Kingston General for six years, where she gained valuable leadership experience. Additionally, she served as Chair of ONA’s provincial Hospital Central Negotiating Team for four years, has nine years of experience negotiating grievance settlements at Kingston General, and served through four rounds of Local negotiations on behalf of her Local 99 members. She has also been a member of several Local and provincial committees including labour-management, negotiations, return-to-work, pay equity and professional practice.
Hoy says she is committed to helping the provincial government understand the risks nurses and health-care providers face every day in their workplaces, as well as the best practices and solutions to mitigate those risks.
“As a society, we do not live to work, we work to live. At ONA, my number one priority for our members is to ensure they have a quality work environment,” she says.
Dawn Armstrong, RN
Provincial Office, 1-800-387-5580 (toll-free) or 416-964-1979 ext.7706
Dawn Armstrong, RN, is a 29-year nurse who works in the emergency room (ER) at Dryden Regional Health Centre, Local 81. She says working in the ER has prepared her for the challenges that lie ahead as a first-time Board member for the Ontario Nurses’ Association (ONA). She is one of three new members joining the Board in 2020.
“Organization is crucial to ensure the flow of the ER. As the regional Vice-President, there are many duties and obligations that need to be balanced daily and that’s where being organized comes in handy. Plus, in the ER, you have to be ready for anything. In my work, I will come up against new issues and challenges every day that need to be dealt with in a timely and efficient manner,” she says.
Armstrong has been active in ONA for almost 30 years. When she started out, she was a single mother and understood the importance of having a good work/life balance, economic stability and a safe and healthy workplace. She knew a strong union would ensure her workplace met these requirements.
As an ONA activist, she has held most positions within her Bargaining Unit, including Bargaining Unit President, Vice-President and Unit Rep. She says that it was in her capacity as Bargaining Unit President that her “passion for advancing in the union” grew. She was also Local Coordinator for Local 81 for three terms.
Her first executive position was Treasurer from 1999 to 2013, and she says she developed skills in that role that gave her an “incredible foundation” in understanding accountability and transparency. As Treasurer for a supplementally funded Local, she always followed provincial policy and developed Local financial policies to support provincial requirements.
“I was always aware that it was my members’ hard-earned dues that I was handling and that their needs were first and foremost. We switched from a paper to a computer system during my time and I adapted well to the new program. Accountability, transparency and adaptability are all qualities you need to serve your members at the Board level,” she says.
Bernadette (Bernie) Robinson, RN
Vice-President, Region 2 (Counties of Prescott, Russell, Glengarry, Renfrew, Lanark, Grenville, Leeds, Dundas, Stormont, Frontenac, Hastings, Prince Edward, Lennox, Addington, Haliburton, Victoria, Peterborough, Northumberland, Regional Municipalities of Ottawa Carlton and Kingston)
Provincial Office, 1-800-387-5580 (toll-free) or 416-964-1979 ext.7756
Bernadette (Bernie) Robinson, RN, is serving her second term as Region 2 Vice-President on the Ontario Nurses’ Association’s (ONA) Board of Directors. In this capacity, Robinson represents thousands of RNs and health-care professionals working in eastern Ontario.
An RN at St. Francis Memorial Hospital, Local 49, for more than 30 years, Robinson has extensive experience working full-time and part-time in all facets of this small, busy rural hospital setting, including emergency and acute care, complex continuing care, dialysis, telemedicine and the LHIN nursing clinic. Robinson also worked part-time concurrently as a community visiting nurse for several years.
She has the background to understand the challenges that face ONA members. An ONA activist since 1987, Robinson continues to be a strong advocate for her members and for the nursing profession. She has served in almost every Bargaining Unit position, including long term on the Bargaining Unit negotiating team, as a Unit Rep and as a Fiscal Advisory Committee member.
Prior to becoming the Region 2 Vice-President, Robinson served for nine years as Local 49 Coordinator and 10 years as Local Secretary-Treasurer. She also served provincially on the 2016 Hospital Central Negotiating Team, Complaints Panel, Election Panel and the 2013-14 Provincial Coordinators Meeting (PCM) Design team.
Robinson currently holds the education portfolio. In this capacity, she promotes and supports education initiatives for ONA members, and supports ONA’s Education Officers in the delivery of workshops within the region.
Robinson is also currently a Board member with the Registered Nurses’ Foundation of Ontario (RNFOO), a charitable organization that supports nursing education and research in the form of monetary awards, and she serves as the ONA Board Member on the Ontario Federation of Labour Indigenous committee.
Donald (DJ) Sanderson, RN
Provincial Office, 1-800-387-5580 (toll-free) or 416-964-1979 ext.7704
DJ Sanderson is one of three new members of the Ontario Nurses’ Association’s (ONA) Board of Directors, representing members in Durham, York, Peel and Toronto.
With more than 15 years of ONA leadership experience, Sanderson says he has met countless “amazing ONA front-line members” and health-care providers.
“I have witnessed the level of dedication and relentless efforts made by members to provide the best possible health care to the vast demographics they serve. Unfortunately, between employer constraints and government funding, this is not an easy task for our members,” he says.
DJ’s passion for nursing and issues impacting ONA members comes from over 20 years in health care. He started his career as an ONA activist at Southlake Regional Health Centre, ONA Local 124, by serving as a Unit Rep, then gained experience as a Grievance Officer, Health and Safety Chair, Professional Responsibility Workload Chair and Vice-Coordinator.
He was elected as the Region 3 member for ONA’s Hospital Central Negotiating Team, and has been serving as the Bargaining Unit President and Local 124 Coordinator for Southlake.
As the Local 124 Coordinator, he was in regular contact with the Ministry of Labour and assisted in three labour relations board appeals. Working with front-line members, he championed a vigorous Professional Responsibility Workload campaign in Southlake’s emergency department, which led to an Independent Assessment Committee review that resulted in nearly 30 recommendations.
In 2017, he collaborated with Southlake’s Respiratory Therapists to unionize their work force.
He has also worked with other public sector health care unions through the Ontario Public Services Health and Safety Association’s Workplace Violence Prevention in Health Care leadership working group. This group, facilitated by the Ministry of Labour and the formerly united Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (now separated into two ministries), resulted in several recommendations to prevent workplace violence.
He also contributed to the 2018 CFNU Health Care Unions’ Roundtable, and represented ONA members and presented at the International Conference on Violence in Health Care in Dublin, Ireland and Toronto.
“In my years as an ONA activist, I have come to understand the struggles members face on every shift. Nurses facing excessive workloads and practice concerns are worse than ever. ONA members exposed to physical violence and unnecessary vicious verbal assaults are a daily concern. Poor scheduling practices and excessive overtime demands place a level of stress on our membership, that few other professions would understand or experience,” he says.
“I respect and value ONA’s Vision. I am committed to members who care for people. ONA has always been a leader and driving force among Canada’s health care unions. Strong leadership is needed, now more than ever, to advocate on behalf of the members we serve.”
Angela Preocanin, RN
Vice-President, Region 4 (Counties of Simcoe, Brant, Wellington, Dufferin, Haldimand, Norfolk, Regional Municipalities of Waterloo, Halton, Hamilton-Wentworth, Niagara, District Municipality of Muskoka and District of Parry Sound)
Portfolio: Occupational Health and Safety
Provincial Office, 1-800-387-5580 (toll-free) or 416-964-1979 ext.7707
Angela Preocanin, RN, is also one of three new members on the Ontario Nurses’ Association’s (ONA) Board of Directors. She is a 29-year nurse and 20-year executive member at Local 75, St. Joseph’s Healthcare in Hamilton. Her roles included Executive Vice-President, First Vice-President and Grievance Chair.
She hopes to leverage her leadership experience to continue advocating on behalf of ONA members provincially and within her region as a Board member.
Preocanin has worked in surgical thoracics, head and neck, urgent care and home hemodialysis.
“I’m a passionate advocate for my Bargaining Unit members and am committed to providing leadership and support for the Professional Responsibility Workload Complaint form and process to uphold the Standards of Practice,” she says.
She is also passionate about fighting for a workplace free of violence, and to that end, has served as the Joint Health and Safety Committee worker co-chair.
“I’ve had the unique opportunity to truly understand the challenges our members face as they try to provide quality care under difficult conditions,” she says.
Prior to becoming the Region 4 Vice-President, she served as the First Vice-President and Grievance Chair for Local 75. As Grievance Chair, she has received extensive experience negotiating grievance settlements through the mediation and arbitration stages.
She was also an active member of Local negotiations for 20 years on behalf of 1,600 ONA members.
Her committee experience includes occupational health and safety, hospital-association/labour-management, professional development, return to work/joint work accommodation and scheduling. She also has been the Region 4 rep on the Hospital Central Negotiating Team for several rounds.
She was the ONA nominee for an Independent Assessment Committee investigating issues in the hemodialysis unit at Humber River Hospital, was a panelist at the Joint Sector Meeting plenary session on grievance preparation and was a member of the ONA Provincial Elections Committee.
Preocanin’s education and skills in labour relations has enabled her to provide solid leadership in advocating on behalf of ONA members.
“With more than two decades of leadership experience with ONA, I am well positioned to bring my skills and unique capabilities to serve as Region 4 Vice President. I look forward to successfully representing our members with the passion and leadership they deserve and continuing,” she says.
Karen Bertrand, RN
Provincial Office, 1-800-387-5580 (toll-free) or 416-964-1979 ext.7702
Karen Bertrand, RN, is currently serving her seventh term (or 12th year) as Vice-President, Region 5, on the Ontario Nurses’ Association’s (ONA) Board of Directors.
A graduate of St. Clair College in Windsor, Bertrand has worked as an RN since 1975 and in the long-term care sector for almost 40 years. She became an ONA member in 1988 and has been active in the union since 1989, serving as Treasurer, Bargaining Unit President and Local 8 Vice-Coordinator and Local Coordinator. She joined the ONA Board of Directors in January 2009.
During her tenure as an ONA Local executive member, Bertrand participated in a number of ONA workshops, and has been a member of many provincial teams and focus groups, including the Educational Focus Group, where leaders and staff revamped ONA’s education program by developing new workshops and delivery methods.
Since 2015 she has carried the provincial portfolio of Local Finance. In that capacity she assists Locals across the province in budget and policy development.
Bertrand says as we navigate through a time of change, ONA is doing all it can to work with stakeholders and other unions to push back.
“Our members are caught in the fallout of this turmoil. It is vital to hold our politicians’ attention and lobby all levels of government to ensure that the values and issues of our members remain at the forefront in constant view of our elected officials and the public,” she says.
“Our common goal across all sectors is to provide the best possible health care to our patients. To achieve that, we must continue to tell our stories so that the politicians see the human side of their decisions, the chaos they create and the impact to patients and our members. Across the region, we have been telling our stories, making our voices heard on important issues and ensuring those in power now listen. We are concerned about the restructuring, the pending mergers, the inadequate funding in all sectors, staffing, workload and erosion of our positions and violence in our workplaces.”
Bertrand says the challenge is to continue to engage members when they are exhausted from the day-to-day demands in the workplace.
“We know collectively we can make an impact, so one member at a time, we need to move forward building capacity within our union. Helping each member find their voice, letting them know that their voice added to others does make a difference in affecting positive change,” she says.
Bev Mathers, RN
Beverly Mathers was appointed permanent Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Ontario Nurses’ Association (ONA) in June of 2019. Previously, Bev served as Interim CEO/Chief Administrative Officer.
An RN for more than 35 years, Mathers has held several progressively senior roles within ONA including Labour Relations Officer, Manager and Senior Director, Labour Relations.
Prior to joining ONA on staff, she held several ONA Executive Member positions at Hamilton Health Sciences Centre including Unit Rep, Site Rep, Grievance Chair and Bargaining Unit President.
A seasoned leader in bargaining and negotiations, Mathers has been a vital part of many of ONA’s central negotiating and local negotiating teams.