As highly regulated, public-sector unionized front-line health-care providers, registered nurses are impacted by an enormous variety of news events, legislative and policy changes.
From outbreaks of infectious diseases to provincial and federal budgets, RNs are affected. ONA’s highly professional, highly educated front-line registered nurses, nurse practitioners, registered practical nurses and allied health professionals are engaged and knowledgeable about all the latest news and policy developments that impact the care they can provide for their patients.
ONA’s Media Room is your one-stop shop to access news, images, and FAQs. As their union, ONA speaks on behalf of Ontario’s front-line nurses and allied health professionals.
Need a front-line health-care perspective on what’s making news? ONA has a professional and responsive media relations staff who can assist you. Media Relations Officer Sheree Bond is here to help you at 416-964-8833; ext. 2430 or (cell) 416-986-8240; email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
ONA media releases are available on our website and distributed via Canada Newswire.
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Charged with the role of patient advocacy, nurses know and are obliged to speak out about the impact of many news developments and policy decisions. Front-line nurses speak out on an array of issues, as found in the below link.
ONA in the News
As the voice for Ontario’s front-line registered nurses, ONA is a reliable and knowledgeable source for information. ONA is frequently quoted on policy decisions and other news developments. See the latest ONA news below:
September 15: ONA Local 8 co-ordinator Sue Sommerdyk has told the Windsor Star (September 15, 2017) that many nurses suffer from depression and PTSD and they are first responders. She says the Ontario Nurses’ Association has advocated for years for legislation to enable nurses to have PTSD recognized as work-related. “We need to have nurses added to that [existing] legislation,” she said. “The fact that the government left us out of the post-traumatic stress disorder legislation was a real let down…” Essex MPP Taras Natyshak has written a private member’s bill to include the first responders left out of Bill 163, saying that nurses and others “shouldn’t have to continue to relive these traumatic events as they are forced to prove their PTSD is work-related…” Sommerdyk says particular triggers include the “death of a child, particularly if it’s abuse. Violence at work. Hit, kicked, punched. Nurses have been stabbed. Nurses have been shot. The verbal abuse is unbelievable. We have to intervene when patients are being treated poorly by their families…every possible thing that you can think goes wrong and could happen, nurses are there at the front line.”
August 30: The chair and associate professor of sociology at Brock University has written a letter to the editor to support ONA’s contention that Niagara Region must address the gender pay gap (Welland Tribune, August 30, 2017). Kate Bezanson writes about ONA’s request that the Region consider the disparity in pay between its public health nurses and male-dominated police force in negotiations. She notes that the pay gap “remains significant in professions that are female dominated, particularly in professions associated with caregiving.” While pay equity legislation has mitigated some of its effects, that has been “marred by enforcement challenges, complicated proxy formulas, and at various times, an absence of political will.” Bezanson also points out that investments in “social service architecture – including especially in skilled professional work associated with community health and care – can have the effect of decreasing costs in other areas.” She believes that gender equity in contract negotiations is important, and that Niagara is well positioned to be a leader.
August 24: Public health nurses in Niagara want pay increases comparable to their counterparts in CCACs and nursing homes (Newstalk 610 CKTB, August 24, 2017). The Region has offered a 1.2 per cent increase but ONA members want 1.4 per cent per year for the next two years. Regional Chair Alan Caslin says a balance needs to be found between wages and benefits.
August 24: ONA First Vice-President Vicki McKenna says there is no reason why public health nurses in Niagara should be offered less than a male-dominated profession in the same region (Niagara This Week-St. Catharines, August 24, 2017). “We believe it’s a gender issue.” Stephanie Premji, an assistant professor in the school of labour studies and department of health, aging and society at McMaster University in Hamilton, says the region is “perpetuating inequality” by offering the nurses smaller pay raises than police. “Addressing wage inequality means addressing the fact that professions dominated by women are systematically treated as less worthy of compensation than male-dominated jobs – regardless of the skills and risks involved or the value of the work.” The Region denies that sexism is playing a role in bargaining.
August 23: Niagara region’s public health nurses could be forced on to the picket lines if ongoing contract negotiations fail in the coming weeks (St. Catharines Standard/Welland Tribune, August 23, 2017). “They do not have the opportunity to go to arbitration like hospital nurses, or homes for the aged nurses in your community,” explains ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud. “They do not have arbitration as a last resort. That’s why they’re speaking up. Our public health nurses do not want to be going on strike. They want to be providing care to the children and adults in the Niagara community.” The 161 registered nurses and nurse practitioners have been working without a contract since the spring.
August 22: Niagara’s Region Chair insists that gender does not play a role when it comes to contract negotiations with regional workers (610 CKTB, August 22, 2017). In a recent media release, ONA First Vice-President Vicki McKenna said that, “The lack of respect shown to our nurses is truly puzzling. We cannot help but wonder if the majority of public health nurses were men, whether the employer would have been more respectful.” But Regional Chair Alan Caslin says that gender isn’t a factor. “We have both genders in both the police force and the Nurses’ Association. Whether they are dominated or not is not something that enters into our discussion. They are independent and dealt with on an independent basis.” He adds that this type of public campaign may actually be doing the organization a disservice. “It gets tricky when we start getting into campaigning for a specific union or a specific group. It’s unfair to the other groups, it’s unfair to the people who are being campaigned in making sure that they use appropriate rationale for the decisions that get made in trying to settle an agreement.”
August 22: The Ontario Nurses’ Association has launched an online campaign asking residents to support Niagara Region’s 161 registered nurses and nurse practitioners who work for the Public Health Unit (610 CKTB, August 22, 2017). “Our RNs and NPs are very disappointed that the Region has tabled a final offer, lower than what was offered to its male-dominated police force and is less than what was offered to hospital, nursing home and Community Care Access Centre nurses,” says ONA First Vice-President Vicki McKenna. ONA wants the community to send a message to the regional council that they need to provide a contract offer that reflects the vital role of these nurses.
August 21: The Royal Ottawa Hospital says society “failed to protect” Marlene Carter, the Indigenous patient at the centre of a health and safety violation that led to a $75,000 fine last week (Ottawa Citizen, August 21, 2017). “This will happen again,” said Dr. AG Ahmed, associate chief of forensic psychiatry at The Royal and the doctor who treated Carter. “All the noise about the fine will die down. But there will be a next time. Are we prepared for next time? Are we doing anything to improve the kind of care for those individuals?” In 2014, Carter stabbed a nurse at the Royal’s Brockville Mental Health Centre in the neck with a pencil. She was at the facility because “no other hospital in the country would take her” – there is no secure forensic psychiatric facility in Canada for women. The Ontario Nurses’ Association told Postmedia News last week that it applauded the fine and urged the province “to invest in taking proactive measures to keep nurses safe.”
August 18: The Brockville Recorder & Times (August 18, 2017) reports that “staffers at the Brockville Mental Health Centre were disappointed a fine on their employers…was not higher.” ONA First Vice-President Vicki McKenna says the $75,000 fine is higher than usual, and the judge “should get some credit for upping the ante.” ONA is critical of some sections of the ruling and is calling on the province to improve staff safety. The union is calling on the province “to invest in taking proactive measures to keep nurses safe.” ONA Region 2 Vice-President Cathryn Hoy said, “let’s stop wasting taxpayers’ money in legal fees and fines where employers such as this one fail in their duties, and instead, make them invest in measures proven to make a difference.” ONA also called on the Ministry of Health to “invest in safe staffing levels, training healthcare managers on their day-to-day safety obligations, invest in authentic occupational health and safety cultures and systems, instead of sending the message that health-care employers will not really be held accountable…” McKenna says that ONA is hopeful that the employer will sit down with the union and discuss improvements.
August 9: A letter to the editor of the Almaguin News (August 9, 2017) from ONA First Vice-President Vicki McKenna says that RNs at Lady Isabelle Nursing Home are concerned for the future of its residents. McKenna writes that RNs are deeply saddened that their frail and vulnerable residents will have to move to other facilities following the revocation of the home’s licence. “Nurses know that this situation may be traumatic for many of the residents,” she writes, “and are committed to providing quality care…until they are transferred to another facility.” These caring RNs have vowed to do their very best to ensure the transition is as smooth as it can possibly be.
July 20: An opinion column in Chatham This Week (July 20, 2017) says that the case made by the Ontario Nurses’ Association Vice-President Vicki McKenna against Chatham-Kent Health Alliance for cutting RNs sounds good “until you think a little harder about it.” Louis Pin writes that “every hospital would rather have 80 nurses than 40, but the hospital might only require 40 nurses.” By the same token, the hospital said “exactly what they were expected to say. Maybe fewer nurses will result in poorer care. Either way, for them to say, ‘right, yes – we goofed, here’s your nurses back’ would be to admit they were knowingly sacrificing quality of care for money, something they absolutely cannot be seen to do.” Pin writes that the “two sides passively shouting at each other through news media doesn’t help real people about to lose their jobs.”
July 18: ONA says that recent RN cuts at the Chatham-Kent Health Alliance (CKHA) will hurt patient care (Blackburn News, July 18, 2017). ONA Vice-President Vicki McKenna told Blackburn News that the cuts will result in less access to emergency care, and impact the Women and Children’s Unit at the hospital. She notes that while it is positive that the hospital is adding an additional physician to the ER, “who do they think sees the patients first? It’s the nurses.” The loss of the RN positions equals the loss of more than 25,000 hours a year of direct, hands-on RN care. McKenna says that “when you reduce nurses…you increase [other] nurses’ workload, they have less time to spend with patients, there’s high complication rates and people tend to stay in hospital longer.”
July 19: Wallaceburg-Walpole Health Coalition chair Shirley Roebuck has joined with the Ontario Nurses’ Association in protesting RN cuts (Wallaceburg Courier Press, July 19, 2017). Roebuck says that the $1.88 million in repair and upgrade funding that is going to the Sydenham campus of CKHA is welcome; she is also pleased that services are returning to Wallaceburg. However, the cuts to registered nurses “drew the ire of numerous local residents and the Ontario Nurses’ Association.” Roebuck says that “any loss of jobs is bad. One thing that came out of our survey, and we continue to hear it, is…the extremely long waits in the emergency room. And waits not only to be seen but waits to be admitted…”
July 18: ONA is reacting to the recent nursing cuts at Chatham-Kent Health Alliance, reports CFCO News (July 18, 2017). ONA Vice-President Vicki McKenna says the cuts will impact safe, quality patient care, especially in women’s and children’s services.” When RNs are cut, she says, patients experience higher complication rates, tending to stay in hospital longer. The Canadian Institute for Health Information reports that Ontario continues to have the worst RN-to-population ratio in the country.
July 13: The Chatham-Kent Health Alliance ‘recovery plan’ will have a negative impact on patient care, says ONA (Chatham This Week, July 13, 2017). The nurses’ union says that the hospital is closing beds and cutting RNs. ONA First Vice-President Vicki McKenna said it is “outrageous” for management to believe that the way to resolve budget issues is to cut services, close beds and lay off front-line nurses.
July 12: The Erie St. Clair LHIN is receiving more than $5.6 million in funding for local regional hospital repairs and upgrades (Sarnia Observer, July 12, 2017). Shirley Roebuck, chair of the Wallaceburg-Walpole Health Coalition, is pleased with the funding, and believes that this will allow for services to be brought back to the Wallaceburg campus. However, the decision to cut front-line RNs from the Chatham-Kent Health Alliance has drawn the ire of the Ontario Nurses’ Association and numerous local residents. Roebuck echoes the concerns of ONA. “Any loss of jobs is bad,” she said. “One thing that came out of our survey and we continue to hear is…the extremely long waits in the emergency room. And waits not only to be seen but waits to be admitted. So there aren’t enough beds now across the [CKHA].”
July 10: Ontario Nurses’ Association officials say that five full-time RNs and a lactation consultant in the Women and Children’s Unit are being cut from Chatham-Kent Health Alliance (CJBK AM London, July 10, 2017). In addition, five full-time and two part-time RNs are being cut from the hospital’s ER, and two full-time RN positions are being cut from the medical unit. ONA says this will eliminate more than 25,000 hours of direct, hands-on RN care.
July 9: ONA says that registered nurses are being cut from Chatham-Kent Health Alliance (CKLW AM, July 9, 2017). Five full-time RNs and a lactation consultant are being cut from the Women and Children’s unit, and an additional five full-time and two part-time RNs will be cut from the ER. The Medical Unit will also cut two full-time RNs. ONA says this is the loss of more than 25,000 hours of direct hands-on RN care for patients.
July 11: ONA First Vice-President Vicki McKenna says that Chatham-Kent Health Alliance’s recovery plan will hurt patient care (Chatham Daily News, July 11, 2017). “It is outrageous for the CKHA management to believe that the way to resolving budgetary issues is to cut services, close beds and lay off front-line registered nurses,” she said. The hospital says the cuts will shift resources to newer technology and cutting wait times for hip and knee replacements. McKenna says that Ontario needs more RNs, not fewer. “We ask the public to pay attention, to stand up for safe care, not cuts,” she said. “They deserve better. If you have fewer registered nurses, patients are more likely to have more infections and higher morbidity.” She also cited research that found that slashing RN hours means longer wait times and ultimately higher costs for the hospital.
July 7: ONA says that cuts at the Chatham-Kent Health Alliance will reduce access to emergency care, particularly for women and children (CBC News, July 7, 2017). The hospital has announced it will cut 38 jobs throughout the system, a move ONA calls short-sighted and harmful to patient care. ONA First Vice-President Vicki McKenna says the cuts include 12 full-time and two part-time RNs. She says that employers “must stop trying to balance their budgets on the backs of our dedicated and highly skilled RNs. Nurses know this will compromise safe, quality patient care.” Nurses working in the women and children’s units say the units never appear to be under-capacity, as claimed by hospital CEO Lori Marshall. Cuts will also be made in the ER and savings will go toward buying new medical equipment, increased respiratory coverage and performing more hip and knee replacements.
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ONA Fast Facts
64,000 – ONA members
16,000 – Nursing student affiliate members
63 – Number of ONA Locals
500+ – Number of ONA Bargaining Unit Presidents
ONA represents members in the following workplaces:
- Nursing Homes.
- Homes for the Aged.
- Public Health.
- Community Care Access Centres.
- Home Care.
- Family Health Teams.
- Community Health Centres.
ONA members include:
- Registered nurses.
- Nurse practitioners.
- Registered practical nurses.
- Occupational therapists.
- Radiation therapists.
- Social workers.
- Medical Radiation Technologists.
- And more.