Our Board of Directors -elected by ONA members- includes the Provincial President, First Vice-President and five Regional Vice-Presidents. ONA’s Chief Executive Officer serves as the Board Secretary.
Board members are responsible for making policies that are consistent with the ONA Constitution that relate to the administration of ONA activities. The Board is also responsible for creating and implementing the strategic direction of ONA.
Each Regional Vice-President oversees one of five geographic regions, including districts, counties and municipalities (outlined below.) Select your Region from the list or scroll down to see your region’s current 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.
Erin Ariss, RN
Portfolio: Communcations and Government Relations, Student Liaison
Email: [email protected]
Provincial Office, 1-800-387-5580 (toll-free) or 416-964-1979 ext. 7755
An ONA member since 2002, ONA’s newly elected President Erin Ariss has seen workloads increase drastically, violence in the workplace become a daily occurrence and nurses feeling burned out and exhausted as employers make impossible demands. In the meantime, the Ontario government continues to underfund the health-care system and is making no meaningful effort to deal with the severe shortage of registered nurses and health-care professionals. Rather, it is driving us towards more privatization.
These challenges prompted Ariss to run for the position of ONA President after a year serving as the Region 4 Vice-President.
An ER nurse at Local 55, St. Mary’s Hospital in Kitchener, Ariss saw how one collective voice brought significant changes for ONA members at her hospital, guiding the ER staff through an Independent Assessment Committee investigation and taking the lead on three successful Ontario Labour Relations Board appeals.
Ariss worked in critical care for the first 19 years of her career, where she witnessed first-hand the difficulties in our members’ workplaces. Her first involvement in union activism was as a Human Rights and Equity Rep in 2015. As a member of the LGBTQ community, Ariss felt there were significant challenges in terms of human rights and equity in her work unit and saw the opportunity to effect change.
“I wanted to lead the charge for the changes we all need and want,” she says.
Ariss added health and safety to her list of responsibilities, shortly after becoming the Local 55 Secretary. She was then elected Bargaining Unit President in 2019 and Local 55 Coordinator in 2021. From there she was elected to the ONA Board of Directors as Region 4 Vice-President in 2021, with the portfolio of Local Finance.
In all, she has served in virtually every Local and Bargaining Unit capacity and also provincially, including representative for Return to Work, Human Rights and Equity, Health and Safety, Hospital-Association Committee, Local Secretary, Hospital Central Negotiating Team, Board Governance and Nominations Committee, Political Action Committee and on the Five Unions Steering Committee and Action Committee (with ONA, OPSEU, SEIU, CUPE and UNIFOR). She also served as an ONA Leadership Coach and received formal governance training at Queen’s University.
One of the highlights of her activism was helping in the fight for personal protective equipment (PPE) for her members when the COVID-19 pandemic broke out.
“Our PPE was locked away in a cabinet that we couldn’t access. We fought back and won. This is something that couldn’t be done by one person alone,” she says.
Ariss sees that now on a broader scale in her role as President.
“I am proud that I worked on the front lines during the pandemic and of the fierce advocacy I provided to my members. But real change will require a mobilized and united ONA. It is time for our members to feel empowered, not overpowered!” she says.
Ariss says ONA’s mobilizing actions in support of our hospital sector members’ central bargaining shows what we can do as a collective and engaged union.
“ONA’s mission is to defend the rights of, and to advocate for, nurses and health-care professionals who care for the health of Ontarians. This is my vision of how we can achieve this. We cannot wait another minute to take collective action to ensure we have safe and equitable workplaces that provide high-quality health care for all Ontarians. Together we will fight injustice and harness our collective power to create change that is unstoppable.”
Angela Preocanin, RN
Portfolio: Political Action / Professional Issues
Email: [email protected]
Provincial Office, 1-800-387-5580 (toll-free) or 416-964-1979 ext. 7707
Angela Preocanin, RN, is a 31-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 has served for the last two years on the ONA provincial Board of Directors as the Region 4 Representative before being acclaimed in 2022 as First Vice-President.
At the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions (CFNU) Biennial Convention in June 2023, Preocanin was acclaimed Secretary-Treasurer for the CFNU. She will continue in her role with ONA concurrently.
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,” she says.
Dawn Armstrong, RN
Vice-President, Region 1 (Districts of Kenora, Rainy River, Thunder Bay, Algoma, Temiskaming, Nipissing, Cochrane, Manitoulin, Regional Municipality of Sudbury)
Email: [email protected]
Provincial Office, 1-800-387-5580 (toll-free) or 416-964-1979 ext.7706
Dawn Armstrong, RN, is a 31-year nurse who worked in the emergency room (ER) at Dryden Regional Health Centre, Local 81, prior to joining the ONA Board of Directors in 2020.
Armstrong says working in the ER prepared her for the challenges that lay ahead in serving as a Board member.
“Organization is crucial to ensure the flow of the ER. As a 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.
As Armstrong begins her second term on the Board, she reflects back on her first term.
“No truer words were spoken when I said I would need to rely on my experience as a triage nurse,” she says. “When the pandemic hit, our role as Board members took on a whole different look. We went from being able to service our members in person to a virtual world that no one had experienced before. We all missed being able to connect with the membership that elected us.”
Despite the challenges, Armstrong is proud of the work accomplished with her portfolio of Human Rights and Equity in the digital format, and the recent addition of the Anti Racism, Anti Oppression initiative ONA will be taking on as an organization.
“I look forward to seeing the progression of this work and my role on the Board in ensuring its success,” says Armstrong.
“The next three years will continue to be both challenging and rewarding at the same time. As always, I am honoured to represent the members of Region 1.”
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)
Email: [email protected]
Provincial Office, 1-800-387-5580 (toll-free) or 416-964-1979 ext.7756
Bernadette (Bernie) Robinson, RN, is serving her third 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.
Karen McKay-Eden, RN
Vice-President, Region 3 (Regional Municipality of Durham, Municipalities of York, Peel and Toronto)
Portfolio: Human Rights and Equity
Email: [email protected]
Provincial Office, 1-800-387-5580 (toll-free) or 416-964-1979 ext.7710
Karen McKay-Eden, RN, was elected as Region 3 Vice-President in a by-election that was held in the summer of 2022. In this capacity, McKay-Eden represents more than 28,000 registered nurses and health-care professionals in the Greater Toronto Area.
A long-standing nurse with decades of front-line experience, McKay-Eden most recently served as the Local Coordinator/Bargaining Unit President at Mount Sinai Hospital, Local 82. In addition, she has participated on many Local committees and in a variety of capacities including on the Grievance Committee, Hospital-Association Committee, Fiscal Advisory Committee, Joint Health and Safety Committee, and the Workplace Violence Prevention Committee.
Says Karen, “I have a passion for advocacy when it comes to my patients, my colleagues and anyone who is not treated with respect and compassion; I found myself speaking up consistently, loudly, whenever I witnessed inequity.”
In her role as Vice-President, McKay-Eden notes she aims to continue to encourage members to engage in our union, to mobilize, and to address and resolve professional practice issues. She notes that her Local had engaged in professional practice resources and was able to achieve a significant settlement for Mount Sinai Hospital’s busy labour and delivery unit. “Our baseline staffing increased considerably, and we achieved a commitment on nurse recruitment and retention. This was a significant win for our patients,” McKay-Eden says.
Grace Pierias, 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
Email: [email protected]
Provincial Office, 1-800-387-5580 (toll-free) or 416-964-1979 ext.7709
Grace Pierias, RN, is serving her first term as Region 4 Vice-President on the Ontario Nurses’ Association’s (ONA) Board of Directors, having won a by-election in the spring of 2023. In her role, she represents ONA members in central and south-eastern Ontario, including Hamilton, Niagara and Kitchener-Waterloo.
An emergency room nurse at St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton and an ONA member for 15 years, Pierias became active on her Local executive in 2015, and has never looked back. For the next eight years, she served as Local 75 Vice-Coordinator, holding the portfolios of political action, professional responsibility, and human rights and equity, and sat on her Local’s Grievance, Scheduling and Local Negotiations committees. This work involved assisting members through the return-to-work/accommodation and professional responsibility and workload processes; negotiating the best possible Local collective agreements; and supporting members who faced employer violations of those contracts.
At the provincial level, Pierias was elected as part-time Region 4 representative on ONA’s 2021 Hospital Central Negotiating Team, advocating for fair and equitable contracts for all hospital members in Ontario, and sat on ONA’s Human Rights and Equity Team from 2016-2018 as the disability representative, noting “respect, inclusion and diversity are at the heart of my decision-making and leadership style.”
But for Pierias, who comes from a long line of union leaders and activists, one the most important roles she played at the Local level and is continuing as Region 4 Vice-President is engaging and leading members in ONA’s ever-increasing political action work, often alongside our likeminded allies. Most recently, that has included rallying against Hamilton Health Sciences’ proposal to replace scrub nurses with unregulated operating room assistants, who have minimal training; fighting the wage-suppressing legislation, Bill 124, which ONA won in the courts in 2022; and helping spearhead an array of hospital bargaining actions in 2023 that saw members across the province come together like never before to demand better staffing, wages and care.
“The world in which we live, breathe and work has changed and so has the political climate,” Pierias said. “Therefore, how ONA functions is changing. We are more proactive than ever before. My personal philosophy is based on a collectively powerful union that works towards excellent economic, social and professional well-being. I strongly believe in the delivery of safe care to patients, clients and residents; equitable and high-quality workplaces; and the big-picture labour movement to organize what we refer to as a ‘supermajority’ of members to achieve their goals. After all, fighting is in my blood, leadership is in my bones and unionism is in my heart.”
Alan Warrington, RN BScN
Vice-President, Region 5 (Counties of Bruce, Grey, Huron, Perth, Oxford, Middlesex, Lambton, Elgin, Kent and Essex)
Portfolio: Labour Relations
Email: [email protected]
Provincial Office, 1-800-387-5580 (toll-free) or 416-964-1979 ext. 7708
Alan Warrington, RN BScN, begins a new level of union activism, having been acclaimed to the ONA Board of Directors as Vice-President for Region 5. His message to members is that despite unbearable workloads, inadequate resources, and immeasurable barriers, “you maintain an incredibly high level of professionalism, and this does not go unnoticed. Thank you for all you do!”
The site rep at London Health Sciences Centre, University Hospital (UH), Warrington also has served as Local 100 Coordinator, representing over 3,400 RNs and health-care professionals. As well, he was Vice-President, Occupational Health and Safety UH and was on the Local Negotiations Team for a first collective agreement at the University site.
Chair of the provincial Hospital Central Negotiating Team (2021), he has received a front-row seat to what occurs when hospital nurses and health-care professionals are underappreciated and undervalued by the Ontario government and their employers, represented by the Ontario Hospital Association (OHA).
Says Warrington, “Nurses have been hailed as heroes, but actions speak louder than words. Suppressing our collective agreement rights, offering wages that further exacerbate gender wage inequity and lead to the loss of nurses, is deplorable. We must continue to fight against regressive legislation like Bills 124 and 195, and ensure strong voices are advocating throughout our association, from front-line members, to elected ONA Local and provincial representatives, to ONA staff. I am committed to ensuring the dissatisfaction and anger of nurses are heard.”
A 2000 BScN graduate of the University of Alberta, Warrington was a member of the United Nurses of Alberta before moving to Ontario. He has worked at LHSC-University Hospitalsince 2007 and has been a proud ONA member since the unit’s certification in 2012, when they merged with Victoria Hospital RNs.
A Critical Care RN (Medical Surgical ICU and Cardiac Surgical Recovery Unit), he has also worked in mental health, cardiology, cardiac surgery and transplants, Warrington continues to be a dedicated member of the RN Local Negotiating Committee, and has been involved in every subsequent round since their merger with the Victoria Hospital RNs as a multi-site Bargaining Unit.
Warrington says that as a member of his employer’s Hospital-Association Committee (HAC), he has seen first hand how difficult it has become for ONA members to deliver ethical, high-quality patient care in view of understaffing and lack of resources.
“Professional practice and workload issues are always rated at, or near, the top of concerns for our members. It is vital that we continue to support our members, be it on the front lines with the professional responsibility process or when they are called upon for College of Nurses (CNO) investigations,” he says.
“In a rapidly changing work environment, it is paramount that our collective bargaining rights be maintained and improved upon: no concessions! With continued provincial government restraints placed on all sectors by the creation of various patient care models that put our clients, patients and communities at risk, I will advocate for the necessary budgetary supports from ONA to help our Local leaders and front-line members continue the fight for our rights.”
Andrea Kay, RN
Chief Executive Officer
Email: [email protected]
Provincial Office, 1-800-387-5580 (toll-free) or 416-964-1979 ext. 2256
Andrea Kay, RN, a 10-year employee who came out of the ranks of ONA’s front-line leadership, has assumed the position of ONA’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO).
As CEO, Kay leads ONA’s day-to-day staff operations, working in partnership with the ONA President.
Kay has extensive experience in health care as a front-line nurse/leader and advocate for the nursing profession, having served as Bargaining Unit President at Ross Memorial Hospital and the Local 105 Coordinator in Region 2. An RN for 26 years and a 35-year resident of Brock Township in Durham Region, Kay began her nursing career in the long-term care sector before moving to the hospital sector, where she worked for over 10 years in Medical and Emergency units at Markham Stouffville Hospital, Uxbridge site, and also for over 10 years at Ross Memorial in Emergency.
In 2012, Kay joined ONA as a Labour Relations Officer, was a staff member for the Hospital Central Negotiating Team when in the Labour Relations Officer role. She was subsequently promoted to Manager-Team Lead, Professional Practice, and then Manager, Labour Relations, for ONA’s East District Service Team. In 2021, she became ONA’s Senior Executive, Labour Relations.
Kay has been the staff lead for ONA’s strategic plan process and implementation, and staff lead for the Board of Directors’ Quality of Services to Members Committee. She also served as an Expert Panel Member for the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO) End of Life and Vascular Access Best Practice Guidelines committees.
Kay represented ONA on the Nursing Homes and Related Industries Pension Plan (NHRIPP) Board of Directors, and most recently has been appointed as ONA’s observer representative on the Healthcare of Ontario Pension Plan (HOOPP) Board of Directors.