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: shereeb@ona.org.

ONA media releases are available on our website and distributed via Canada Newswire.

Media Room

Read media releases

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.

Media Room

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:

May 9: Across Huron County, nurses are building healthier communities (Lucknow Sentinel, May 9, 2018). May 7 to 13 is Nursing Week, and ONA members – including public health nurses – are celebrating with a theme of “Better Care Starts Here.” ONA President Vicki McKenna notes that Huron public health nurses promote, protect and restore people’s health in the communities where they work, live and play.” She also notes that as our communities’ populations’ needs change, public health nurses are always ready to respond. “The work our nurses do is built on the idea of health equity – ensuring that all people can reach their full potential regardless of their gender, age, race, ethnicity, religion, social class, socioeconomic status or other socially determined circumstances.” She urges the public to take a moment to celebrate the work that nurses do.

May 7: ONA President Vicki McKenna says that RN vacancies in our hospitals need to be filled in order to ensure patient safety and improve the level of care (CFMZ, May 7, 2018). ONA says there are currently more than 10,000 RN vacancies on Ontario hospitals. “It’s enough, it needs to stop, and whichever government is in place after the election, you know, they need to attack this problem seriously and quickly.”

May 7: ONA and the RNAO have held a media conference at Queen’s Park to call for RN hospital vacancies to be filled across the province (CHML AM, May 7, 2018). They say that more than 10,000 RN positions are sitting vacant, leaving patients without access to the expert care of RNs and putting their safety at risk. They are urging all political parties to commit to making RN staffing a health-care priority in their election platforms.

May 7: CBC Radio (May 7, 2018) has reported that ahead of the provincial election, ONA and the RNAO want the political parties to promise to fill 10,000 vacant RN positions. ONA President Vicki McKenna says she hears every day from nurses who are working short. Short staffing – “even below baseline for the number of beds that are in a unit, let alone the additional patients – is just a ridiculous situation,” she said. ONA says that Ontario has the lowest ratio of RNs to population in the country. RNAO CEO Doris Grinspun said the situation is unsafe, with patients suffering more complications and more people dying due to lack of RN care.

May 7: Timmins Today (May 7, 2018) reports that a flag raising helped kick off Nursing Week. Ontario Nurses’ Association members joined Timmins Mayor Steve Black and council members at City Hall to raise the ONA flag and officially proclaim Nursing Week. ONA’s Nursing Week theme is ‘Better Care Starts Here’ to reflect nurses’ unique, highly developed skills and the high-quality care they provide to Ontarians.

May 7: The Ontario Nurses’ Association and the RNAO held a joint media conference to mark Nursing Week – noting that more than 10,000 RN positions in the province are vacant (Queen’s Park Briefing, May 7, 2018). ONA President Vicki McKenna says that is the “equivalent of more than 19 million hours of RN care that our patients are not receiving each year. As a result, the vital patient care provided by RNs is being eroded.” RNAO CEO Doris Grinspun said “fewer RNs means a higher risk for patients. It means higher rates of morbidity and mortality.”

May 7: ONA President Vicki McKenna says that Ontario’s hospitals have “capacity issues, [a] high volume of patients in our hospitals in particular” (CKDO AM Oshawa, May 7, 2018). On top of that, “there is an extreme shortage of nurses.” ONA and the RNAO held a media conference to talk about hospital staffing, and McKenna says that patients are not getting effective medical services.

May 7: The Ontario Nurses’ Association and RNAO say that more than 10,000 RN positions are currently vacant in provincial hospitals (CKNX AM, May 7, 2018). Representatives from ONA and RNAO issued an urgent call today to fill the vacancies. They are urging all political parties to commit to making RN staffing a health-care priority by including a promise in their election platforms to immediately post and fill the vacancies. The two groups explained that Ontario has the lowest RN-to-population ratio in Canada.

May 7: ONA President Vicki McKenna says that provincial political parties may not be paying enough attention to health care (Zoomer Radio, May 7, 2018). McKenna and RNAO CEO Doris Grinspun were interviewed on “Fight Back with Libby Znaimer” and they noted that Ontario does not have enough RNs providing care. The two organizations are working together to “make sure that all the political parties…understand that registered nurses are essential to patient outcomes.” McKenna says that hospital budgets have played a role, cutting RNs to save costs. In addition, RN vacancy numbers have reached a crisis level. McKenna says she “hears nurses every day tell me that they’re working two and three nurses short. I think the capacity issue that’s been so prevalent in the news…” is related to this issue, as there are not enough hospital beds nor the nurses to staff them. McKenna also notes that the research is really clear: “the cost benefit to having registered nurses at the bedside, shorter lengths of stay, better health outcomes, fewer complications…” She adds that our patients deserve better and so do our nurses.

May 7: A letter to the editor of the St. Catharines Standard and Niagara Falls Review (May 7, 8, 2018) from ONA President Vicki McKenna wishes nurses across the country a happy Nursing Week. McKenna writes that this is a week to pause and remember that despite the challenges the profession faces, “we love what we do – as complex and ever-changing as it is.” She also notes that nurses have the opportunity to choose to specialize; one sector that nurses work in is public health, and Niagara Region residents benefit from the highly skilled work that public health nurses do each day. Public health nurses are the foundation of the health-care system, and McKenna notes that they are threatened by cuts. She asks that the community stand up for their public health nurses, and take the time to appreciate what they do.

May 7: ONA President Vicki McKenna and RNAO CEO Doris Grinspun will hold a media conference about current registered nurse staffing practices in hospitals (Canadian Press, May 7, 2018). The two will also discuss what nurses expect to see from the next provincial government.

May 7: The Ontario Nurses’ Association and Huron County Health Unit are celebrating Nursing Week with a theme of “Better Care Starts Here” (Bayshore Broadcasting, May 7, 2018). Public Health Nurse Ashley Furtney says nurses are drawing attention to the specialized community-based work of public health nurses this week. Their “work is flexible” in responding to the needs of an aging population, parents and children, she says. Public health nurses offer a range of services that includes infection control, sexual health services, disease prevention and emergency management. Furtney adds that the work of public health nurses is geared toward the goal of health equality, which ensures the same level and quality of service to everyone.

April 26: A new four-year deal is in place for Algoma public health nurses and nurse practitioners (CJQM News, April 26, 2018). The Ontario Nurses’ Association says the new deal includes wage increases, improvements in benefits and non-monetary gains. The deal was reached in a last-minute settlement.

April 26: A tentative deal has been reached between the Ontario Nurses’ Association and Algoma Public Health (EZ Rock News, April 26, 2018). The public health nurses and nurse practitioners have avoided what could have been either a strike or lockout today.

April 26: Ontario Nurses’ Association members have reached a tentative deal with Algoma Public Health (CJQM News, April 26, 2018). Up to 50 public health nurses and nurse practitioners work for the health unit.

April 26: “Organized chaos” is how ONA member Miranda Lamb, a trauma nurse at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, described the day when “something big had happened” in Toronto (CBC News, April 26, 2018). On Monday, April 23, a truck driver deliberately drove into a crowd of people; 10 people died from their injuries and many others were critically injured. Lamb said the unit was already overcapacity when a “Code Orange” was called. Code Orange is an emergency code denoting a mass casualty event. “We try to keep it very calm,” Lamb said. “It’s a calm, organized chaos. Everybody just goes into their role; everybody steps up.”

April 25: CBC Radio Thunder Bay warned there might be picket lines outside the Algoma Health Unit as ONA members at the Algoma Health Unit prepared for a breakdown in mediation and possible strike (April 25, 2018). ONA President Vicki McKenna told the CBC negotiations had been difficult. “Health units across Ontario have been taking a hard line in negotiations this year,” she said.

April 27: ONA’s 58 public health nurses and nurse practitioners at Algoma Health Unit in Sault Ste. Marie reached a last-minute deal with their employer, bringing wage increases (ranging from 1.5 per cent to 2 per cent), improvements in benefits and non-monetary gains (Sault Star, April 26 and April 27, 2018 and myespanolanow.com, April 27, 2018). The four-year contract, ratified by both ONA and the employer, is retroactive to April 1, 2017 and expires April 1, 2021. ONA President Vicki McKenna said that through the “difficult round” of bargaining, our members were committed to “avoid being forced to withdraw services.” “I’m thrilled that they have an agreement,” said McKenna. “I know this is absolutely an agreed-to settlement that was ratified by more than 90 per cent of the membership.” Prior to the agreement, the nurses were the lowest-paid in the province.

April 25: As a legal strike/lock-out approaches, Algoma Public Health Nurses and NPs are making a last-ditch effort to avoid being forced out on strike (MyEspanolaNow.com, April 25, 2018). ONA President Vicki McKenna says the nurses have been working without a contract for more than a year and have had four days of negotiations and two days of conciliation. The nurses serve more than 114,000 residents.

April 25: Negotiations between Algoma Public Health and the Ontario Nurses’ Association have reached a “critical point” (CJQM FM, April 25, 2018). ONA says the nurses are making a last-ditch effort to avoid being forced out on strike; there have been four days of negotiations as well as two days of conciliation. The two sides are in mediation today. More than 50 ONA members have been working without a contract since April 1 of last year. ONA says it is looking to avoid a strike.

April 24: With tomorrow’s legal strike/lock-out date approaching, Algoma Public Health Nurse and NP members are making a last-ditch effort to avoid being forced out on strike (SooToday.com, April 24, 2018). ONA President Vicki McKenna says the nurses have had four days of negotiations, two days of conciliation and will be in mediation on Wednesday to try to reach a deal. “As our members enter the second year of working without a contract, they have tried to remain optimistic that a negotiated settlement could be reached.” The nurses want to continue to provide their services to the community. ONA and its members have urged the board of health to provide a bargaining mandate that respects and values ONA members.

April 11: Ontario Nurses’ Association members working for Central West Specialized Development Services in Oakville have a new two-year agreement (Oakville Beaver, April 11, 2018). The five full-time and two casual registered nurses care for people with developmental disabilities, challenging behaviours and mental health issues. The RNs had been without a contract since March 30, 2017. ONA President Vicki McKenna said, “They are happy to have a collective agreement going forward. It isn’t everything they’d hoped for certainly, but it is a beginning, something that lets them move forward.” McKenna added that these RNs “work in a field that many people don’t know a lot about, but these are services that are very much needed in the area. They are dedicated to the people that they care for so they certainly did not want to withdraw service, but at the same time they wanted to be treated fairly and reasonably.”

April 10: Public health nurses and NPs working at Algoma Public Health will sit down with their employer one more time (The Sault Star, April 10, 2018). The two sides have had four days of negotiations and two days of conciliation, and have yet to reach an agreement, says ONA President Vicki McKenna. The nurses, says McKenna, “Are trying to give the employer the benefit of the doubt to come to the table with a reasonable offer. Currently, what is being proposed by the employer, the [negotiating] team well knows there would not be any ratification…” The ONA members have been without a contract since April 1, 2017.

April 7: Algoma Public Health Nurse Practitioners and Public Health Nurses will sit down with their employer again on April 25 (thesudburystar.com, April 7, 2018). ONA President Vicki McKenna says that two days of conciliation in early March, which followed earlier negotiations, failed and no agreement has been reached. In an interview, McKenna says the nurses are “trying to give the employer the benefit of the doubt to come to the table with a reasonable offer that they can take back. Currently, what’s being proposed by the employer, the [negotiating] team well knows there would not be any ratification, that the members would not accept it.” McKenna says that workload and wages are the key issues. She notes that these days, “when there’s so much talk, in particular, about equity and fair wages and all that sort of stuff going on in government, how is it we still have people doing the same job being paid differently? That doesn’t make any sense.” In addition to pay, she says that the employer is leaving vacancies empty, increasing the workload for the remaining nurses. Algoma Public Health had been in the media spotlight for a “rash of questionable activity” in the past while. Its former CFO, Shaun Rothberg, turned out in fact to be Shaun Rootenberg, a convicted fraudster who spent time in federal prison. The health unit’s medical director of health, Dr. Kim Barker, resigned when that information came to light. Rothberg had replaced the previous CFO, who had pleaded guilty to theft over $5,000 and breach of trust.

April 5: ONA is rolling out four new commercials about violence in their workplace (CHWI TV, April 5, 2018). According to ONA, one in three nurses will be physically abused on the job.

April 6: Nurses are becoming victims of violence on the job more often (CBC Radio 1 Windsor, April 6, 2018). The Ontario Nurses’ Association has now created four new ads to educate the public on the issue.

April 5: CTV News Windsor (April 5, 2018) reports that workplace violence is all too familiar to local nurses and front-line health-care providers. The Ontario Nurses’ Association has now produced four commercials to raise awareness about violence, saying violence will not be tolerated. Local 8 Coordinator Susan Sommerdyk says that nurses’ lives have even been threatened; when patients get frustrated, she says, it’s the nurses that bear the brunt of their anger.

April 5: At the Local 100 general meeting of the Ontario Nurses’ Association, members were told that London hospital violence is at an “all-time high” (London Free Press, April 5, 2018). Alan Warrington told ONA members that the culture at London Health Sciences Centre must change. “We now have metal detector wands, contraband policies, and countless other changes. It is a slow process and preparatory time is necessary,” he said. Warrington says the employer does not do a good job of speaking up for RNs or any front-line staff. “We had a big event last year where they had an [Ontario Labour Ministry] appeal over a near rape…” The report says that when a MOL inspector did a cursory investigation that did not include interviewing staff, ONA pushed back. This led to a second investigation and a settlement that required the hospital to take a number of additional measures to increase security. Hospital VP Susan Nickle told the Free Press that the number of violent incidents has increased but suggested that it might be because the hospital is encouraging reporting and appropriate follow up.

April 6: A letter to the editor of the Windsor Star (April 6, 2018) urges that Dan’s Law be passed before the provincial election. A number of organizations, representing more than 100,000 health professionals, are asking the public to support them. ONA President Vicki McKenna is one of the signatories urging that Bill 5 be passed to end a three-month waiting period for access to OHIP for those moving to Ontario.

April 5: A new public awareness campaign launched in Windsor says that violence against nurses won’t be tolerated (CKLW AM, April 5, 2018). Ontario Nurses’ Association Local 8 Coordinator Susan Sommerdyk says that nurses are easy targets for frustrated patients. Nurses, she says, have “been punched in the face, punched in the shoulder, punched in the neck…they’ve been yelled at, they’ve been verbally assaulted”…and had their lives and jobs threatened. The new ads will air in local theatres and on social media.

April 5: Windsor-Essex RNs have launched a public awareness campaign to stop workplace violence against nurses and other health-care professionals (AM 800 News, April 5, 2018). ONA Local 8 Coordinator Sue Sommerdyk says that one in three nurses experiences physical abuse on the job at the hands of frustrated patients. “We’re right in front of them and we’re – you know, we’re generally a target that you’re pretty well guaranteed [that] we’re not going to hit back…we’re caregivers,” she said, “We’re here for the patients.” Four new commercials have been developed on the issue and will be shown in local theatres and on social media.

April 5: Many Ontario nurses face workplace violence on a daily basis (CBC.CA News, April 5, 2018). Ontario Nurses’ Association Local 8 Coordinator Susan Sommerdyk, RN says she has been kicked, grabbed, had her hair pulled, been spit on, scratched and threatened at work. The Windsor RN has worked with area registered nurses to develop a series of new ads to raise awareness and stop workplace violence in Windsor-Essex. Sommerdyk says for a long time, nurses were expected to “just suck it [violence] up. It’s limitless what’s happened.” Sommerdyk says ONA wants people to know that it’s unacceptable and people shouldn’t have to go to work ‘worried about what’s going to happen the next time they go in.’ She believes a lack of funding, nurses and a lack of beds is leading to a lot of patient frustration, and people “start taking it out on the people they see the most.”

April 4: ONA Local 8 members, representing RNs in Windsor-Essex, has developed a new ad (CHYR FM, April 4, 2018). The ad highlights the risk of violence suffered by nurses and is airing now.

April 4: ONA President Vicki McKenna says that RNs are caregivers, and “we go to work each day to help patients heal, not to be beaten and assaulted” (Blackburn News, April 4, 2018). Now, the first of four commercials highlighting the risk of workplace violence faced by RNs and health-care professionals is airing now in Windsor. ONA Local 8 developed the ads which have received support from Windsor Regional Hospital CEO David Musyj. Musyj says that “believing that violence against RNs and health-care professionals doesn’t exist won’t help eradicate the attacks. It cannot be stressed enough that when our care providers are at risk, our patients also suffer.”

April 5: The Windsor Star (April 5, 2018) reports that “one in three nurses experience physical abuse at work and their union wants it to stop.” Ontario Nurses’ Association Local Coordinator Susan Sommerdyk says that violence “happens every day in nursing. I can tell you in just looking at some local reports since January, we’ve had nurses punched in the face, punched in the shoulder, punched in the neck, punched in the ear, slapped in the face, bitten, kicked, spit on, knocked to the ground.” Now, Windsor-Essex registered nurses have launched a public awareness campaign to draw attention to workplace violence. The first of four ads developed by the ONA Local shows a nurse being attacked, and ends with the message that violence is not part of the job. Sommerdyk says there should be protection for nurses as patients and families make nurses the target of their anger over wait times or their health situation. The campaign is intended to educate the public and remind them that nurses are not the problem, and has received support from Windsor Regional Hospital and Hotel-Dieu Grace Hospital.

April 2: ONA President Vicki McKenna is among those expressing support for Dan’s Law (windsorstar.com, April 2, 2018). Bill 5, also known as Dan’s Law, was introduced by Lisa Gretzky, MPP for Windsor West, to provide support for patients and their families by removing a three-month waiting period for access to OHIP for those moving to Ontario. The opinion column says that “as health-care professionals we know that there is no medical justification for the wait period… The benefits of timely care include avoiding potential medical complications of delayed care and the associated significant human and financial costs arising from these complications.”

March 29: An opinion editorial in the Smiths Falls Record News (March 29, 2018) says, “We agree with the Ontario Nurses’ Association assertion that the 4.6 per cent increase in hospital funding recently announced is good news for patients IF the funds filter down to patient care and alleviate hallway nursing.” While 4.6 per cent sounds good, it looks like the actual number for small hospitals may be less than that. The piece says that health care is clearly in crisis, and “the union is right to advocate for staff and patients alike.” ONA President Vicki McKenna notes that “front-line registered nurses and health-care professionals know that our hospitals are severely understaffed. This funding is an opportunity to improve the quality of care our patients need and deserve.” The editorial says that nurses and their support staff peers are fundamental to quality health care; “let’s give them the tools and support needed to continue to care for us when we need it most.”

March 29: The Arnprior Chronicle-Guide (March 29, 2018) has reported on the rally of ONA members in front of Arnprior Regional Health. RNs from ONA joined union members from CUPE, OPSEU and the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU) to voice concerns about low staffing levels and patient care. ONA Bargaining Unit President Blaine Davidson said since the hospital cut three full-time RNs, there have been staff shortages and glaring holes in the schedule. “I just want the public to know the nurses here feel we need more support and staff so we can provide the care that they deserve in this community. Over the years since I have been here I have seen an ongoing decline of patient care due to the fact of nursing staff shortages.” ONA Vice-President Bernie Robinson said she is calling on Arnprior Regional Health to rescind the RN cuts immediately. “Hire enough full-time nurses; come to the table to meet with all three unions that represent the front-line staff,” she said.

March 25: Algoma Public Health nurses are entering a second day of conciliation talks (SooToday.com, March 25, 2018). The more than 50 Ontario Nurses’ Association members are among the lowest-paid in the province, and have been without a contract since April 1, 2017. The two sides held one day of conciliation in late February. ONA President Vicki McKenna, RN, says she is urging the employer to come to conciliation prepared to offer a respectful and fair contract. “Our highly skilled nurses provide a full range of services to promote the health of our communities, prevent illness and injury, and protect residents from communicable and infectious disease outbreaks,” she said.

March 26: Algoma Public Health Nurses and Nurse Practitioners are entering a second day of conciliation talks today, hoping to avoid a strike (Myespanola.com, March 26, 2018). More than 50 Ontario Nurses’ Association members have been without a contract for almost a year. ONA notes that the Algoma nurses are among the lowest paid in the province. ONA President Vicki McKenna, RN says she urges the employer to come to conciliation prepared to offer a fair and respectful contract and avoid a possible strike.

March 24: An opinion column in the Toronto Sun (March 24, 2018) asks what is to be made of Premier Kathleen Wynne’s promise to increase hospital funding by 4.6 per cent to address wait times and overcrowding. James Wallace writes that this promise will either result in massive cuts to other provincial programs or massive new and “endless” deficits. The column notes that just to maintain current health-care service levels, the government needs to increase funding by 5.3 per cent. A 2016 report on bed shortages from the Ontario Health Coalition notes that “the evidence is indisputable that Ontario’s government has cut hospital care to the lowest levels of all provinces in Canada.” The Ontario Nurses’ Association launched a campaign last year to highlight concerns about nursing cuts and warn that, ‘inadequate funding is risking the survival of our publicly funded, publicly provided health-care system.’ The column concludes that “real change is needed – bold, creative and sustainable change – not a future of massive cuts to health care or other government spending programs of massive new debt.”

March 22: ONA President Vicki McKenna says that “violence against nurses and other health-care workers can no longer be considered part of the job” (MediaPlanet, March 22, 2018). McKenna was commenting on the Public Services Health & Safety Association’s (PSHSA) new toolkit meant to harness technology to improve workplace safety. “PSHSA has done a great job…to enable employers to assess risk and prevent further workplace violence,” said McKenna. “We applaud the progressive hospital CEOs who have already committed to using these tools.” The report notes that though the toolkits are meant for use in Ontario, two other provinces are currently testing them.

March 20: CBC Radio 1 Ottawa (March 20, 2018) reports that those participating in the rally against RN cuts at Arnprior Regional Health held placards reading: ‘Registered nurses save lives’ and ‘Patients need safe staffing levels now.’ CBC’s All in a Day talk show interviewed ONA Bargaining Unit President Blaine Davidson as well as ONA President Vicki McKenna about the situation. Davidson told CBC that “morale in the last six to eight months has been very poor…that fact that you show up to work and you realize that you’ve got to work short right from the beginning, you know that the patients aren’t going to get the care required.” He is called in to work overtime on half of his days off. McKenna says that an average RN works close to 2,000 hours per year, so the loss of three full-time RNs at Arnprior is the equivalent of 6,000 hours of front-line RN care lost per year. She notes that there is a great deal of research on the capacity issues in Ontario hospitals. As well, fewer RNs means more complications for patients. “You add additional patients, continuing to do that, over and over, then that is a very sad picture for Ontario.” McKenna says that the cost of caring for patients who suffer complications because there weren’t enough RNs caring for them outweighs the cost of staffing properly.

March 21: Close to 100 health-care staff raised their voices at a rally outside Arnprior Regional Health (Arnprior Chronicle-Guide, March 21, 2018) to protest low staffing and patient care levels. Ontario Nurses’ Association Bargaining Unit President Blaine Davidson says that he has seen many glaring holes in the schedule and shortages since the hospital cut three full-time RN jobs. He says, “I just want the public to know that nurses here feel we need more support and staff so we can provide the care that they deserve in this community. Over the year since I have been here, I have seen an ongoing decline of patient care due to the fact of nursing staff shortages.” ONA Regional Vice-President, Bernie Robinson, told the crowd the rally was a response to the three RN cuts. “I am calling on Arnprior Regional Health to rescind the RN cuts immediately,” she said to the crowd.

March 21: There is a long list of issues to face in Ontario’s health-care system, say many clinicians and patients (CBC News, March 21, 2018). While provincial party leaders have “teased at their respective game plans,” health experts have their own visions for health care that they would like to see endure past the next election cycle. Among the experts interviewed is Vicki McKenna, RN, Ontario Nurses’ Association President. McKenna told CBC News that “we need staffing numbers that are appropriate for the volume of patients that we care for. Not only is there no room [in our hospitals], but there’s not enough staff.”

March 20: Staff at Arnprior Regional Hospital are concerned about patient care and staff burnout following the cuts of three RNs last year (CBC News, March 20, 2018). Nurses and hospital staff rallied in front of the hospital yesterday, carrying signs that said “cuts don’t heal” and “increased workload+increased risk to patients.” Blaine Davison, RN, said “some of the patients may feel they’re still getting great care, but that’s on our backs. That’s because we’re working like dogs to maintain this level of care and we’re starting to burn out.” Nurses are concerned for their patients’ safety, their own well-being and are even concerned that should they make an error due to understaffing, they could lose their licence. The hospital has cut three full-time RN positions, and just recently advertised for six part-time RPN positions. Patrick Garbutt, who works in housekeeping, says the RPNs don’t have the same training as registered nurses and often can’t take care of more serious patients or those with complex medical needs.

March 20: Arnprior Today radio (March 20, 2018) reports that approximately 40 nurses and front-line staff rallied outside Arnprior Regional Hospital to protest staffing cuts. They note that reductions in the hospital’s in-patient unit have left the unit down three full-time nurses. Ontario Nurses’ Association Region 2 Vice-President Bernadette Robinson says the nursing layoffs are being addressed in the grievance process. The demonstrators want to call the public’s attention to how staff shortages can negatively impact patient care, and aggravate staff burnout.

March 16: Ontario Nurses’ Association manager of litigation, Sharan Basran, was a featured speaker on sexual harassment and discrimination recently at the Law Society of Ontario (The Lawyer’s Daily, March 16, 2018). The event was held in honour of International Women’s Day. Basran said parallels can be drawn between the entertainment industry and the legal profession, as in Hollywood, there was a “culture of silence” when women began to speak out. In the legal profession, Basran said she has witnessed retaliation against those who speak out in her own practice, and noted that this contributes to the fear of speaking up. “I’ve seen individuals file complaints and be terminated subsequent to filing a complaint. I’ve seen clients be terminated mid-investigation. So it’s a real fear and there are real power imbalances,” she said. She added that legal firms are still workplaces, so employers have a legal obligation to protect employees from harassment.

March 5: Time is running out for the passage of Dan’s Law – draft legislation named for Dan Duma, who died fighting for the right to receive home care before his death (Windsor Star, March 5, 2018). The bill received second reading in 2016 and was to be reviewed by the justice policy committee. However, it has ‘remained in purgatory ever since,” says Dr. Darren Cargill, Duma’s palliative care doctor. He is now urging people to contact new health minister Dr. Helena Jaczek to support the bill. Those already endorsing the bill include the Ontario Nurses’ Association and the Ontario Medical Association.

March 1: ONA is in conciliation talks with Ontario Nurses’ Association members in Sault Ste. Marie (CTV News, CJQM FM Radio, March 1, 2018). ONA represents 58 public health nurses with Algoma Public Health. The nurses have been without a contract since April 1 of last year, and serve a client base of more than 114,000 people in the District of Algoma.

March 1: Algoma public health nurses are entering conciliation talks (The Sault Star, March 1, 2018). The 58 Ontario Nurses’ Association members have been without a contract since April 1, 2017; they provide public health services to the Algoma District and are “dedicated to ensuring the best health for their communities, says ONA President Vicki McKenna. She notes that the nurses have experienced tremendous amounts of organizational turmoil and change over the past few years. ONA always prefers to reach a negotiated settlement, and she is urging the employer to come to conciliation prepared to offer a fair contract.

Behind the Front Lines

Reporters, like registered nurses, have suffered cutbacks and are under pressure to deliver. While they do an admirable job, Behind the Front Lines gives media a glimpse of the story behind the story from front-line RNs’ and allied health professionals’ view.

Read the latest issue:

In this issue:

  • Nursing shortage impacting patient care in other provinces
  • Hallway nursing: hospital overcrowding is not easing
  • Overcapacity crisis: RN cuts come back to haunt CHEO
  • Private surgery centres killing patients in U.S.

Read past issues:

In this issue:

  • Long-Term Care the Focus of Media Attention
  • Is Private, For-Profit Health Care Creeping In?
  • More Funding, But More RN Cuts in Southwestern Ontario
  • Canada’s Nurses Host Premiers in Edmonton

In this issue:

  • RNs per Capita: Ontario Still in Last Place
  • Private Physician Payments – Columnist Blames Nurses
  • Bad Hospital Discharges a Big Complaint

In this issue:

  •  Overcrowding in Ontario Hospitals Continues
  •  ONA Finds Court Decision “Sickening”
  •  College of Nurses Puts a Negative Spin on a Good-News Story
  •  First Responders Day: Most Nurses Still Excluded from PTSD Legislation

In this issue:

  • Workplace Violence Continues to Make the News
  • “Stalker MD Story” Misses the Biggest Point
  • Sunshine List: The Meaning Behind RN Salaries
  • Nurse-Artist Profiled

In this issue:

  • Nurse Practitioners in the News
  • Is Labour Looking at Trouble?
  • Brexit Vote Impacts Patient Care
  • Nurses Hoping to be Included in Federal PTSD Legislation

In this issue:

  • Surge, No Surprise to Nurses
  • Nurses Fear for Patient Care as FAO Releases New Report
  • Subtle Campaign to Expand Privatization Continues
  • RN Cuts Outrage Nurses

In this issue:

  • Labour Day Coverage
  • Premier’s Net Zero Announcement Too Late for Ontario RNs
  • Column on Labour Law Proposed Changes is Over-the-Top
  • Losing Canadian RNs: The Allure of International Nursing for New Grads

In this issue:

  • The First Test of “Lori’s Law” is Followed by Ottawa Media
  • Intense Interest in CAMH Trial by Toronto Media
  • Firing of London nurse for patient safety advocacy backfires
  • Zika Virus: Possible Patient-to-Caregiver Transmission

In this issue:

  • RN cuts in Ontario get attention
  • Effects of RN cuts, bed closures showing
  • Workplace violence trial underscores risks nurses face
  • Northern nurses celebrate Nursing Week by raising funds for the Red Cross

In this issue:

  • PTSD Legislation: ONA Speaks Out About Exclusion of Nurses
  • “Home Care” an Oxymoron?
  • Medically Assisted Death: RNs Concerned About Liability
  • ONA Representatives Travel the Province During Nursing Week

In this issue:

  • 2016 Kicks off with RN Cuts
  • A Spate of Violent Attacks at St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton
  • Provincial Budget Controversy
  • ONA’s “Nurses Know” Campaign Continues

In this “Year in Review” issue:

  • Fair and Extensive Coverage of the CCAC Strike
  • RN Cuts Continue Unabated
  • No Corner of the Province Immune to Cuts
  • Health Care Workplace Violence Takes Centre Stage
  • Nursing School Leaders Say Regulator is Failing RNs

In this issue:

  • ONA Launches “The Truth Hurts. Nurses Know” Campaign
  • Workplace Violence Finally Gets Some Media Attention
  • More Cuts at North Bay P3 Hospital
  • Flu Season is Here and the Vaccinate-or-Mask Story is Difficult to Report

Speak to an Expert

The Ontario Nurses’ Association has many experts who are knowledgeable and can discuss a wide range of issues including:
  • Patient Safety
  • Labour relations
  • Occupational health and safety
  • Nursing in Ontario
  • Health policy and economics
  • Infection prevention and control
  • Human rights and equity issues
  • Political action; and
  • Much more.

Simply contact Media Relations Officer Sheree Bond (shereeb@ona.org) for more information, or to arrange an interview with one of our experts.

ONA Fast Facts

65,000 – 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:

  • Hospitals.
  • Nursing Homes.
  • Homes for the Aged.
  • Public Health.
  • Community Care Access Centres.
  • Home Care.
  • Clinics.
  • Industry.
  • Family Health Teams.
  • Community Health Centres.

ONA members include:

  • Registered nurses.
  • Nurse practitioners.
  • Registered practical nurses.
  • Occupational therapists.
  • Radiation therapists.
  • Physiotherapists.
  • Social workers.
  • Medical Radiation Technologists.
  • And more.