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:
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.
June 30: ONA supports a public inquiry into long-term care sparked by the Elizabeth Wettlaufer case, but cautions against over-supervising nurses (CFCO AM Chatham, June 30, 2017). Nurses work under already strict guidelines, says ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud. She points out that nurses work in situations where there could be violence, racism, safety issues, and they work “under a microscope” that they understand and can handle.
June 30: The Ontario Nurses’ Association supports the public inquiry into long-term care in Ontario, and also cautions against over-supervising nurses (Blackburn News, June 30, 2017). The inquiry comes following the life sentencing of Elizabeth Wettlaufer, a former nurse who killed eight long-term care residents. ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says that “media attention resulting from [the case] presents the opportunity to examine, as well, the systemic issues that might impact the care and safety of our frail seniors…a public inquiry into long-term care must also include an examination of much broader issues, such as resident-on-resident violence and compliance with long-term care legislation and regulation.” She adds that there is room for improvement in long-term care, but not at the cost of frustrated nurses leaving the profession or the province or scaring off new ones. More oversight is good, but going overboard is not.
June 15: The Ontario Labour Relations Board has ruled in favour of the Ontario Nurses’ Association, making the union the representative of 800 health-care professionals at Health Sciences North (Sudbury Star, June 15, 2017). ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says “we are very pleased with the labour board’s decision, which puts to rest once and for all the outstanding issues surrounding the vote. We are thrilled to represent and welcome the medical laboratory technologists, respiratory therapists, kinesiologists, occupational therapists, medical radiation technologists, physiotherapists, speech language pathologists, x-ray technicians and over 50 other classifications of health professionals into ONA.” ONA won the vote against OPSEU to represent these health-care professionals.
May 18: Health-care professionals at Sudbury’s hospital have voted to join the Ontario Nurses’ Association (CTV News, May 18, 2017). After three days of voting, ONA had won 370 votes versus 358 for OPSEU. ONA already represents 1,300 RNs at Health Sciences North.
May 19: ONA says that the first recommendations from the province’s Workplace Violence Prevention in Health Care Leadership Table are a good start (EcoLog, May 19, 2017). The Leadership Table is charged with examining violence in health care broadly, “but its first order of business was the nursing profession.” ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says violence against nurses is an epidemic, and she was named to the Leadership Table. The report made 18 recommendations, calling on hospitals to assess their reporting systems, communicate clearly and consistently about reporting protocols and the actions that must follow a report. The ministries of Labour and Health will be required to do the same.
May 21: The family of a woman who died at Brampton Civic Hospital says her death was a result of gross negligence (Brampton Guardian, May 21, 2017). Roelfina Dillerop’s family says the woman was stuck in the hallway of the hospital for “days on end.” The Guardian notes that the Ontario Nurses’ Association and the Canadian Association of Emergency Physicians caution that hallway medicine can lead to disastrous outcomes. Roelfina was taken to the ER in February following a fall. She required stitches, was placed in the hallway for three days and then discharged, despite the fact that she could not walk or care for herself. When she returned, she waited in the hallway again for five days. During that time, she became dehydrated, contracted C. difficile and experienced cognitive issues. She later died in the palliative care ward. The family says that on four occasions, nurses tried to discharge her. The capacity of the Brampton facility has exceeded 150 per cent. ONA and the Canadian Federation of Nurses’ Unions have been sounding a “code blue” about hallway nursing for some years. ONA representative Cathryn Hoy says, “when you’re laying on a gurney in a hallway, you have no curtains, no toileting, nurses and doctors are speaking to you in a hallway where everyone can hear what the medical issues are. There’s no respect for patients or their families, and we’re cutting people (RNs) who actually care for the sick.” She notes that multiple years of funding freezes have resulted in hospitals eliminating some 1,600 RNs.
May 19: ONA has declared victory in a vote to represent 800 health-care workers at Health Sciences North (CBC News, May 19, 2017). ONA won by 12 votes, and while 14 ballots are still in dispute, the union is confident that this will not affect the final outcome. “ONA proudly welcomes these new healthcare professionals to our strong healthcare union,” said ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud.
May 19: After a close race, health-care professionals at Health Sciences North voted to join the Ontario Nurses’ Association (Sudbury Star, May 19, 2017). After three days of voting, 370 workers chose ONA and 358 chose the Ontario Public Service Employees Union. “More than 85 per cent of the HSN membership were engaged in the democratic voting process to choose their union,” said ONA Provincial President Linda Haslam-Stroud. “We’re honoured that the majority of ballots counted were in support of ONA.” While 14 ballots remain in dispute, ONA is “confident” that the outcome of the vote will not be affected.
May 12: Negotiations have reached the conciliation stage for 42 nurses working at Chatham-Kent Public Health Unit (Windsor Square, May 12, 2017). The nurses, represented by the Ontario Nurses’ Association, hope to avoid a strike.
May 11: Eight-hundred hospital workers at Health Sciences North are the subject of a competition between the Ontario Nurses’ Association and OPSEU, as both unions seek to add members to their ranks (CTV News Sudbury, May 11, 2017). ONA supporters say that the employer and OPSEU triggered the vote but now ONA, “just wants to show all the health professionals that work here that, you know, what ONA has done and what ONA will do for them.” Both unions say that no matter the outcome of the vote, health-care workers’ rights will be protected.
May 10: ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says she is “really disappointed that the employer and the other union triggered” a PSLRTA vote for a handful of workers in Sudbury (CBC Radio 1, May 10, 2017). She notes that the reality is that health care is constantly being restructured, and she is “sure the employers and the government love it, they can say, ‘oh the unions are busy fighting with each other instead of fighting with the employers on different issues.’ The new members that we have now had overwhelmingly chosen to be with ONA, and asked us to be their union and are now unfortunately, in this fight for who’s going to be their representative.” ONA and OPSEU are both campaigning in Sudbury to represent the workers.
May 9: ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud is visiting Sudbury to help mark Nursing Week (CTV News, May 9, 2017). Haslam-Stroud says “if we want to keep Ontarians healthy, you need nurses. And we’re really proud of our profession and we are really proud to be part of the broader health-care team.” She notes that Ontario currently has the lowest ratio of RNs in Canada.
May 10: CBC Sudbury (May 10, 2017) reports on the fight to represent allied health professionals at Health Sciences North. ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says the PSLRTA process was triggered by OPSEU and Health Sciences North when 16 workers from the geriatric program in North Bay were transferred to Sudbury last year. She says that those members “overwhelmingly chose to be with ONA and asked us to be their union, and now, unfortunately, they are in this fight.” OPSEU President Smokey Thomas said he’s not sure this process is good for unions, indicating that, “I try not to say anything negative about other unions, but boy, oh boy, I’ve had some whoppers told about me and my union.” He also said that he wishes ONA would “stick to their knitting and stick to their nurses, but they seem to want to branch out.”
May 10: Two health-care unions are in a battle to represent 800 Health Sciences North workers (CBC News Sudbury, May 10, 2017). Next week, the workers will vote on whether to make ONA or OPSEU their union. ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says that 200 of the workers joined ONA last year, but OPSEU then applied for the right to represent all 800, triggering the Public Sector Labour Relations Transition Act (PSLRTA). Both unions are “making their case” with radio ads, billboards and visits to the Sudbury hospital.
May 9: A letter to the editor of the Sarnia Observer (May 9, 2017) notes that workplace violence is not tolerated against any other workers as it is for nurses. G.C. Lester writes that the Ontario Nurses’ Association has spoken out to say that “violence isn’t part of this job. It shouldn’t be part of this job. Eventually somebody will get killed, and the current situation of violence against nurses in Ontario is completely unacceptable.” The letter lists charges against Ontario hospitals for failing to keep nurses safe, and cites Jean Dobson, RN, who talked about being choked with a stethoscope, stabbed with a metal fork and having her nose fractured when a patient kicked her in the face. ONA has launched a public awareness campaign to reveal the painful reality of workplace violence against nurses. Lester writes that a nurse’s long hours, psychologically demanding work, inflexible schedules and low schedule control contribute to excessive use of unscheduled absences to recover from stressful work conditions and illness. Lester wishes every nurse in all health-care settings a “Happy Nurses Week.”
May 6: The Brantford Expositor (May 6, 2017) reports that John Noble Home and the union representing most of its staff are seeking arbitration. The contract for SEIU members expired on March 31. The management committee of the home for the aged has also met in-camera regarding negotiations to renew the existing collective agreement with the Ontario Nurses’ Association.
May 5: There is labour peace at the Windsor assembly plant (CTV Windsor, May 5, 2017). The 16 nurses working at Fiat Chrysler have ratified a new contract. ONA First Vice-President Vicki McKenna says that “they didn’t achieve everything they had hoped, but they did make some headway.”
May 5: ONA First Vice-President Vicki McKenna says the nurses working for Fiat Chrysler have “overwhelmingly” ratified a new contract (CBC News, May 5, 2017). The nurses managed to make small gains through negotiation. “They were able to achieve certainly more stability for those nurses who aren’t considered full-time or permanent, even though they seem to be, and also some substantive salary increases in that classification because they’ve been frozen at a salary rate upon hire.”
May 5: North York General Hospital senior managers receive alerts five times daily on the “ever-rising tide of patients arriving at the hospital’s emergency department” (Canadian Press, May 5, 2017). Too many ‘red alerts’ prompt immediate action, with managers meeting with nurses and doctors to find space on medical units – just one tactic to deal with overcrowding in one of the country’s busiest ERs. The stories of patients languishing in ER departments peaked this winter, says the report, and have prompted interest in how North York General has made inroads on dealing with the issue. VP of clinical programs and chief of nursing for the hospital, Karyn Popovich, says the hospital has brought the two worlds of the ER and the in-patient units together. “We had nurses from the in-patient unit come down to emergency and see what it was like there, and we had nurses from emergency go into the in-patient units…so that we all understood the others’ work environment and pressures.” The hospital has also adopted the Choosing Wisely medical movement where medical staff make recommendations on ways to eliminate wasted time and money. However, ONA First Vice-President Vicki McKenna says that she has heard from senior nurses at North York General that while they feel leadership does listen to them, they’re concerned about a future without more resources and beds. “There’s no flex in the system, there’s no capacity,” she said. Nurses are concerned about what will happen when a lease runs out for the hospital’s Branson ambulatory care centre later this year, as it handles some of the cases that could end up in future at the main ER.
April 28: The RNs and Nurse Practitioners working for the Sudbury District Health Unit will be holding a ratification vote on a new tentative agreement (Manitoulin Recorder, April 28, 2017). ONA First Vice-President Vicki McKenna says “the good news is that a contract agreement has been agreed on that will go for ratification on April 27. The negotiating team is recommending that members vote in favour of the agreement, and are very pleased to take it to its members.” The nurses provide a wide variety of services and McKenna said previously that the SDHU collective agreement must provide competitive wage and benefit provisions that ensure there is an edge to recruit and retain valuable nurses for the community.
April 27: The Windsor Star (April 27, 2017) reports that if ONA members working for FCA strike, Unifor Local 444 will honour their picket line. FCA Canada and the Ontario Nurses’ Association are at conciliation talks, trying to end the negotiation impasse. The 16 ONA members provide care for more than 6,500 employees at the plant. The previous four-year agreement expired last December, and salary, benefits and job security are among the key issues.
April 27: More than 6,500 Fiat-Chrysler workers would “definitely respect” the picket lines if the 16 ONA members who care for them every day go on strike (CBC.CA News, April 27, 2017). ONA First Vice-President Vicki McKenna says that just three of the 16 nurses are considered full-time employees by the company. “Auto is a tough industry, we all know that,” she says, “but that doesn’t mean they should be treated poorly. Many nurses are looking elsewhere for work because they don’t have enough money for food.” If there is a strike, Unifor Local 444 President Dino Chiodo says his members would back up the nurses.
April 27: Nurses working for Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles say they do not want to strike, but may be forced to if conciliation talks fail (Blackburn News, April 27, 2017). The ONA members work at the Windsor Assembly Plant and other FCA facilities in Canada. They have been without a contract since December. If the nurses strike, other unionized workers at the plant say they will not cross the picket line. Unifor Local 444 President Dino Chiodo says “a picket line is a picket line. If we were on strike, we’d be asking those employees not to cross the picket line. I think it works both ways.” Just 16 nurses care for 6,500 workers at the Windsor plant, but only three are considered full-time. ONA says that some of the nurses have not had a raise since they were hired in 2006. The nurses provide emergency care, promote health and safety, provide vaccination clinics and fit workers with respirators.
April 27: The Brockville Recorder & Times (April 27, 2017) reports that ONA is “appalled” at the recent court decision that found Brockville Mental Health Centre guilty of just one of five charges laid against it. ONA said the court decision leaves nurses “unprotected from violence.” First VP Vicki McKenna says that the union is “shocked the employer was not convicted on charges of failing to take sufficient precautions and implement measures and procedures in a case where one of our members was so seriously injured.” ONA says that workplace violence has been increasing in Ontario’s health-care sector, and ONA officials are unhappy at the “lack of effort on the part of health-care employers to take action to keep their front-line caregivers safe on the job.” McKenna notes that this employer has “spent significant taxpayer dollars fighting against registered nurses who are continually at risk of violence.” Several other violent incidents have taken place on the same unit since this case. McKenna says that “until government and courts begin to hold senior health-care officials accountable, we will continue to see workplace violence escalate.”
April 27: ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says health-care funding in the provincial budget has left her “cautiously optimistic” (tillsonburgnews.com, April 27, 2017). “I’m hoping that average of around a three per-cent increase is going to stem the tide and, in fact, stop the RN cuts that are presently happening in the hospital system.”
April 28: ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says funding that was announced for hospitals in the 2017 budget “isn’t enough to address all of the current problems in hospitals (Broadcast News, April 28, 2017). Haslam-Stroud adds that she hopes it will mean fewer patients on stretchers in hospital hallways, waiting for care.
April 27: The Ontario Nurses’ Association, Ontario Hospital Association, Ontario Council of Health Unions and others are all looking for a five-per-cent increase in hospital spending in the provincial budget being released today (CBC.CA News, April 27, 2017). The associations – representing hospitals, nurses and hospital employees, are looking for the finance minister to come through with the “major booster shot” he has promised. While this might sound like a large increase, a CUPE researcher says that health-care data shows that amount is needed simply to prevent the system from getting worse. Doug Allan says “that’s not leading to enrichment, that’s just keeping the system from having more crises, more backlogs, more problems.” Ottawa’s hospitals often have too few beds available for the number of patients admitted and staff have been cut; ONA reports that 100 RN positions were cut among Ottawa’s hospitals in the past 18 months. Meanwhile, this week, Ottawa Hospital’s website shows the 917 beds at the Civic and General campuses are at 110 per cent capacity.
April 27: The nurses who work at Chrysler’s Windsor Assembly Plant are “on the doorstep of a possible strike” (Windsor Star, April 27, 2017). ONA First-Vice President Vicki McKenna says that “normally, we sit down and move through this [negotiations] quickly. But this time, we had three or four days with no resolution. It’s very unusual and now we are being forced into conciliation.” The previous four-year contract expired on December 31. A strike mandate vote has been held and the two sides will be in conciliation talks this Friday. The nurses “play an important role at that plant,” says McKenna. “They are out on the floor and everywhere, taking care of the employees. Their role is critical.” The nurses care for workers in a wide variety of medical emergencies, critical injuries and even life-threatening situations that can include cardiac arrest, she said. There is no salary grid for the nurses; full-time nurses receive benefits, but 13 of 16 are classified part-time and do not have benefits. McKenna says the “company needs to make sure these people are adequately compensated. They have had a frozen salary since they were hired.”
April 26: ONA is “disgusted” at a court decision released today that found the Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre guilty of just one of the five charges laid against it following the stabbing of a nurse (Ottawa Citizen, April 26, 2017). The employer was found guilty of failing to reassess the risk of violence but four other charges, brought by the Ministry of Labour, were dropped. ONA First Vice-President Vicki McKenna, RN, says “we’re shocked the employer was not convicted on charges of failing to take sufficient precautions and implement measures and procedures in a case where one of our members was so seriously injured.” She notes that ONA is “unrelenting” in its efforts to push employers and government to eliminate violence in health-care workplaces.
April 22: One RN position is being eliminated and one RN position, as well as an NP position, is being reduced from full-time to part-time at North Bay Regional Health Centre (North Bay Nugget, April 22, 2017). ONA First Vice-President Vicki McKenna says the hospital is also reducing “at least a half of a registered nurse position” in telemedicine. McKenna says that this hospital keeps “nipping away” at full-time hours and is losing qualified staff. “This community’s access to health care is being decreased. They can’t keep cutting full-time positions…it’s also demoralizing,” she said. McKenna does not understand why the cuts are happening right before the provincial budget is released. “We’re hoping the province will put more money in health care,” she said. “These cuts have to stop. I’m sure the North Bay community is tired of all these cuts.” Hospital CEO Paul Heinrich has admitted that stuff cuts are becoming more difficult to make and that safety can become an issue.
April 20: ONA First Vice-President Vicki McKenna says that more than 100 RNs and NPs at Sudbury District Health Unit are disappointed that they have been unable to reach a negotiated agreement with their employer (CTV News Sudbury, April 20, 2017). She says the nurses are looking for “modest types of improvement in their collective agreement. That’s all they’re looking for. So we hope the employer comes to the table serious tomorrow and prepared to sit down and negotiate and get this deal done.” The two sides will be in conciliation talks. ONA says that a strike would impact close to 200,000 in the Greater Sudbury and Manitoulin areas.
April 19: RNs and NPs – members of the Ontario Nurses’ Association – are heading to conciliation talks with Sudbury District Health Unit (National Post, April 19, 2017). The 103 nurses say they are disappointed that a negotiated settlement has not been reached. ONA First Vice-President Vicki McKenna says, ‘We are committed to reaching an agreement with this employer without being forced to withdraw our services. A strike would disrupt the vital services that our members provide to the 195,000 residents in Greater Sudbury as well as the districts of Sudbury and Manitoulin.”
April 18: North Bay Regional Health Centre has started issuing layoff notices (thesudburystar.com, April 18, 2017). CUPE was the first union to receive the notices; North Bay hospital will cut 30 to 40 positions. According to the hospital’s website, most of the positions currently vacant include part-time registered nurses, an RPN, a developmental social worker, a crisis worker, pharmacist, physiotherapist, PSWs and occupational therapists. Layoff notices to the Ontario Nurses’ Association and OPSEU will be given in the next two weeks. CEO Paul Heinrich says that staff cuts are becoming more difficult to make and “only so many positions can be cut before it becomes a safety issue.”
April 12: With a new five-year contract for public health nutritionists, health promoters, infant development workers and dental hygienists, Peterborough Public Health has given similar wage increases to all its unionized workers (Peterborough Examiner, April 12, 2017). Other bargaining units at Peterborough Public Health include the Ontario Nurses’ Association and CUPE. The newest agreement is with members of OPSEU, who will receive a three-per-cent increase in 2016 and 2017, a one-per-cent increase for the following two years, and a one and one-half increase in the final year of the contract.
April 7: The RNs and NPs at Sault Ste. Marie and District Group Health are heading to interest arbitration in their efforts to reach a new contract (SooToday, April 7, 2017). The ONA members cite their employer’s lack of knowledge of their skills, education and value during negotiations as “disturbing.” ONA First Vice-President Vicki McKenna says that “for someone who is paid more than the head of the Sault Area Hospital, the CEO of the Group Health Centre and the senior executive team have displayed a…lack of knowledge of the work of our dedicated registered nurses and nurse practitioners.” The ONA members have been working without a contract since March 31, 2016 and are the lowest-paid in the area. ONA says the employer is seeking to cut benefits, though the CEO himself is listed on the Sunshine List as enjoying more than $1,275 a year in taxable benefits.
April 5: The tentative deal between ONA and the Region of Waterloo is now “official” (Cambridge Times, April 5, 2017). The two sides ratified the new contract on March 28. ONA public health unit members with the Region of Waterloo had been without a contract since June 30, 2016.
April 5: The Region of Waterloo and its public health nurses have ratified a new contract (Waterloo Region Record, April 5, 2017). ONA began negotiations for the 131 members in June 2016. It covers the health unit’s public health nurses, RNs, NPs, RPNs and nurse specialists; the deal runs from July 1, 2016 to June 30, 2019.
April 4: Local public health nurses will receive wage increases and adjustments to health benefits and premiums after ratifying a new three-year deal with the Region of Waterloo (CBC News, April 4, 2017). ONA represents the 131 public health nurses, RNs, NPs, RPNs and nurse specialist RNs. The new contract is retroactive to July 1, 2016.
April 4: ONA members working for the Region of Waterloo have ratified a new three-year contract (570 News, April 4, 2017). The new contract includes “minor adjustments” to health benefits and premiums, as well as a 1.25-per-cent increase in the first two years and a 2-per-cent increase in the third year.
April 4: Cornwall city council has met behind closed doors to discuss implementing a city worker wage freeze (Cornwall Standard-Freeholder, April 4, 2017). While it is unclear whether the freeze would be for all departments, managers and city council itself, for just one year or for multiple years, it has been the city’s practice to give its non-unionized employees and council members a raise in line with those given to some of its unionized staff. Freezing wages for unionized staff would impact 800 workers. Currently, union contracts for Cornwall Community Police Services offers and transit employees remain in effect. The fire department, the Ontario Nurses’ Association and four other CUPE locals have contracts that either expired last year or in 2015.
April 4: A letter to the editor from ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud (Toronto Sun, April 4, 2017) says that Michele Mandel’s article on the physician who lost his hospital privileges because he stalked an RN does not go far enough. The more troubling problem, she writes, is that physicians are given privileges to work in a hospital, and to remove those privileges requires a long, multi-step process due to the Public Hospitals Act. ONA represented the nurse who was harassed by the physician in this case. It took multiple, expensive legal proceedings to ensure the doctor had his privileges revoked. Ten years ago, ONA also represented Lori Dupont, the RN murdered at her workplace by a physician with privileges at Hotel-Dieu Grace Hospital in Windsor. The coroner’s jury in that case had a number-one recommendation: amend the Public Hospitals Act “on a priority basis.” The amendment was not made in 2007 and it still has not been made. Haslam-Stroud writes that she agrees that a physician’s right to practice should not be more important than staff safety. However, what we have learned from the tragedy of Dupont’s murder is that the whole physician “privilege” process is a problem; amendments to the Act are needed now.
April 1: A letter to the editor of the Ottawa Citizen (April 1, 2017) from ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud thanks the newspaper for publishing a story on the benefits of RN care for pediatric patients. As ONA President and an experienced RN, Haslam-Stroud notes that she has been vocal about the value of RN care for patients of all ages, and adds that Dr. Catherine Pound’s study is just the latest of dozens of studies that show the benefits of having RNs on the front lines of patient care. What is concerning to ONA is that budget constraints have resulted in more than 1,600 RN positions being cut from Ontario hospitals in just over two years, including the 49 RN positions cut from CHEO last year. She urges that cuts to skilled caregivers who do so much for patients be stopped.
March 31: The Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU) says it’s unfair to blame hospital cuts exclusively on the high cost of hydro (North Bay Nugget, March 31, 2017). “To suggest that the root of our community hospitals’ yearly budget deficits and the staff, bed and care cuts that follow, is high hydro costs is to mislead the public,” said OCHU president Michael Hurley in a recent media release. The OCHU accused opposition parties of having no plan to help hospitals if they form the next government. “It would appear from their public comments that hospitals could expect relief in their relatively small hydro budgets and no relief on their larger underfunding problem.” Hurley said that neither opposition party has addressed the fact that North Bay’s hospital is a private-public partnership “with significantly higher costs to maintain its infrastructure.” The North Bay Regional Health Centre has cut 350 front-line workers, including 100 nurses, in the past five years. ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud recently wrote a letter to The Nugget warning that RN staffing in North Bay “has already been cut to dangerously low levels and cannot be further cut without dangerously hurting patient care.”
March 30: Ontario Nurses’ Association Local 8 has been recognized as a community-boosting group at the 2016 I Believe in My Community Awards in Windsor (Windsor Star, March 30, 2017). The annual event is organized by the United Way. CEO Lorraine Goddard said that nominees “truly care about Windsor-Essex County and have allowed [the United Way] to help more than 44,200 people right here at home.” ONA Local 8 was recognized with a “Community Workplace Award” for consistently demonstrating their commitment to the community through their involvement, leadership and United Way contributions.
March 27: CJOY AM Radio Guelph reports that mediation is continuing between ONA and officials from the Region of Waterloo (March 27, 2017). The two sides are in contract talks for public health nurses from the region.
March 27: CTV News Kitchener (March 27, 2017) reports that mediation is continuing between the Ontario Nurses’ Association and the Region of Waterloo. If the two sides do not reach an agreement, there could be strike of public health nurses as early as Wednesday. CTV reports that the nurse’s last contract expired nine months ago.
March 27: Public health nurses are in the last day of talks with the Region of Waterloo and hope to reach a new deal (CKGL 570 News Kitchener, March 27, 2017). Both the region and the Ontario Nurses’ Association say that a strike would negatively affect the public. Medical Officer of Health, Liana Nolan, says the two sides are still hopeful. ONA VP Vicki McKenna says the nurses do much more than immunizations, they also provide services for moms and new babies, new immigrant families, and provide education.
March 27: Talks between 130 public health nurses and the Region of Waterloo are set to resume (CKGL Radio Kitchener, March 27, 2017). ONA First Vice-President Vicki McKenna says that the nurses provide vital services to the community. “They’re out in our schools working on immunization clinics, they’re out teaching groups and individuals on falls prevention, on safety.” McKenna notes that should the nurses be forced to strike, the first line of defense in any sort of health outbreak is compromised.
March 22: Guelph General Hospital is the latest healthcare centre in Ontario to face criticism for alleged violent incidents against staff (OHS Canada, March 22, 2017). The Ontario Nurses’ Association filed a grievance against the hospital this month, alleging insufficient protection of staff and patients from violence. The hospital has seen several attacks, including one in which a patient threw a bottle of urine at a nurse’s face. [Former] ONA Regional Vice-President Anne Clark said the nurse could not call for help, and was also grabbed and bitten by the patient. Hospital president and CEO Marianne Walker says the hospital has learned from the incident, as well as a situation where personal protective equipment was not readily accessible to staff who needed to use it in a decontamination situation. She says that staff today are better trained and equipment is more easily available.
March 26: Talks continue between Ontario Nurses’ Association public health nurses and the Region of Waterloo (570 News Kitchener, March 26, 2017). The two sides will be in mediation on Monday. The ONA members will be in a legal strike position as of 12:01 am on March 29.
March 22: Nominations are now open for the Lois Fairley Nursing Award to recognize the Windsor-Essex County nurse of the year (Windsor Star, March 22, 2017). This is the 10th annual award presentation which is named after Lois Fairley, former president of the Ontario Nurses’ Association.
March 23: A letter to the editor of the Windsor Star (March 23, 2017) from ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says that volumes of research tell us that: cutting RNs increases the risk of patients suffering complications and death. More RN care means better patient outcomes and fewer costly hospital readmissions. Cutting RN care is not a “course correction” nor something to boast about, she writes. It is a recipe for disaster for our patients, and the only winners are Detroit hospitals which will “no doubt jump to recruit more highly trained, highly educated RNs from Canada.” Haslam-Stroud encourages patients to speak out about the care they need for their best health.
March 17: A letter to the editor of the North Bay Nugget (March 17, 2017) from ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud warns that RN staffing levels are already dangerously low and patients cannot afford for the North Bay Regional Health Centre to cut more positions. The “skilled and dedicated registered nurses at North Bay Regional Health Centre have been quietly fighting to save quality patient care for years now,” she writes. Yet ONA and its North Bay members have been informed that more cuts are coming. “Nurses know our patients cannot afford to lose any further front-line RN care,” she says. Research shows that cutting RNs means patients suffer a greater risk of suffering complications and death. Ontario hospitals have already cut 1.5 million hours a year of RN care from the front lines. “The truth hurts – and it must prompt change,” writes Haslam-Stroud. She urges the community to speak out as their access to quality health care depends on it.
March 14: Ontario Nurses’ Association members have ratified a new three-year contract (CJTN FM, March 14, 2017). The 217 RNs, NPs and allied health workers have a contract that includes wage increases. They are employed by the South East CCAC.
March 15: ONA has announced that it has reached an agreement with the South East Community Care Access Centre (Brockville Recorder & Times, March 15, 2017). The three-year deal includes wage increases. ONA First Vice-President Vicki McKenna says that the new agreement also includes changes to contract language that will “make a big difference for them and their work day-to-day.” The nurses had been without a contract since March 2016.
March 14: Hospital unions including the Ontario Nurses’ Association will be notified in the next two weeks that a further 30 to 40 jobs are being cut by North Bay Regional Health Centre (North Bay Nugget, March 14, 2017). Paul Heinrich, president and CEO, says beds aren’t expected to be reduced but both union and non-union staff will be let go. The hospital cut three management positions last week, he said, and, “I can say it’s getting harder to make reductions. We can only cut so much before it becomes a safety issue. We recognize that our organization has been through extremely difficult times.” He stressed that the government needs to invest in hospitals.
March 14: The Sault Star (March 14, 2017) reports that NDP Leader Andrea Horwath was in the Sault on Monday, claiming the Liberal government has not done enough to stop rising electricity costs. Horwath pointed out that hydro bills had jumped nearly $1 million at Sault Area Hospital as hospital funding has been frozen, leading to front-line health-care cuts. ONA Local President Glenda Hubley, RN, says nursing hours in the imaging diagnostics unit have been cut. “We just want to provide the best possible care, but it’s getting harder and harder to do that,” she said. Horwath says the Premier is “hurting families by looking out for herself and her party instead of looking out for the rest of us.”
March 9: ONA First Vice-President Vicki McKenna (CKGL AM, March 9, 2017) says that “never before” have public health nurses at the Region of Waterloo been treated as they have been during this round of contract negotiations. The 130 public health nurses in Waterloo have been without a contract since June. The nurses have become “disheartened and disrespected” by their employer, says McKenna. Region of Waterloo spokesperson Liana Nolan says the city remains “optimistic” that an agreement will be reached.
March 9: Local public health nurses will be in a legal strike position on March 29 (CKGL Kitchener-Waterloo, March 9, 2017). The Ontario Nurses’ Association members are expected to meet in mediation with the employer just two days before the strike deadline.
March 9: CHEX TV (March 9, 2017) reports that the eight employees on strike at the Canadian Hearing Society were joined on the picket line by others, including the Ontario Nurses’ Association, OPSEU and Unifor members. Adam Coones, a representative of the striking CUPE Local 2073, says he and his fellow workers were happy to see the support.
March 14: Haldimand-Norfolk will no longer have a nurse practitioner providing pre- and post-natal care after the public health unit made a controversial decision to cut the position (Hamilton Spectator, March 14, 2017). Kim Cleland, owner of Norfolk Roots Midwives, says “it’s definitely a sad thing to see that program go, and I wonder about the long-term consequences.” The Ontario Nurses’ Association has started an on-line campaign to fight the cut at www.ona.org. ONA First Vice-President Vicki McKenna says the NP provides care to “a group of citizens who desperately need it. She goes to them. That’s the key piece.” It costs $85,000 a year to provide the NP, and that funding comes from the province. The decision means that the community will lose the cash as of March 31. Retired public health nurse Marilyn Antkiw says, “Let’s send the money back – where is the logic? There is still a huge need for this type of service.” She has been fighting the cut. She believes the most adversely affected patients “will be our most vulnerable citizens – those without transportation, those without a phone, those without health insurance, those with no doctor, those living in poverty and those who have no formal or informal supports.”
March 14: The Kingston Whig-Standard (March 14, 2017) also reports on the new South East CCAC contract for ONA members. The three-year deal allows ONA members to achieve salary increases and negotiate increases in other areas. ONA First Vice-President Vicki McKenna also says that there are collective agreement language changes that will “make a big difference for them in their day-to-day lives. Now they can take a breath and know that they’ve got a solid contract for a few years.” The nurses had been without a contract since March 31, 2016.
March 14: The 217 RNs, NPs, RPNs and allied health professionals at the South East CCAC have ratified a three-year deal (Broadcast News, CJOJ, March 14, 2017). The Ontario Nurses’ Association members provide services in Belleville, Picton, Napanee, Bancroft, Northbrook, Kingston, Brockville and Smiths Falls. ONA says the deal includes a wage increase of 1.4 per cent in each of the first two years, retroactive to March 2016, and two per cent in the third year.
March 11: Hotel-Dieu Grace Hospital is cutting the number of RNs from a ratio of one-to-three to one-to-five or six on some of its units (Windsor Star, March 11, 2017). While the change “will cause upheaval,” the nursing losses “will be small and done through attrition.” Jo-dee Brown, the local president of the Ontario Nurses’ Association, says the complex continuing care units are ‘generously staffed.” CEO Janice Kaffer says that the new ratios mean “it will look different, but it will not be poor quality care.”
March 13: The Toronto Star has published a report on the province’s nurses and PSWs, who are facing an “epidemic of violence” (March 13, 2017). Featuring photographs of the RN honour guard at ONA member Lori Dupont’s funeral and Centre for Addiction and Mental Health nurses protesting violence, the report says that the government and hospitals have failed to safeguard them from abuse, assault and sexual harassment. Ontario Council of Hospital Unions president Michael Hurley has written to the Labour Minister to express “dismay” at the daily threats health-care workers face on the job which go “unacknowledged, dismissed or tolerated by administrators and regulators.” CIHI found that health-care workers have the second-highest number of reported injuries in the province, ahead of construction, mining and manufacturing. OCHU will publish new research this year and has documented “widespread and systemically accepted violence” among health-care staff in seven Ontario communities. The staff identify underfunding and understaffing as “significant contributors” to workplace violence. In 2010, the Ontario government introduced legislation requiring employers to have programs in place to deal with workplace violence and harassment; the reforms came following the 2005 murder of Windsor nurse Lori Dupont.
March 1: ONA members have ratified a new agreement with the North East CCAC (Nurses’ Newsline, March 1, 2017). ONA recommended acceptance of the agreement for the approximately 300 care coordinators, placement coordinators, care connectors, wound care nurses, mental health and addictions nurses and Telehomecare nurses.
March 1: ONA members working for the North East CCAC have ratified a new, negotiated agreement (Sault Star, March 1, 2017). Approximately 300 ONA members work as care coordinators, placement coordinators, care connectors, wound care nurses, mental health and addictions nurses, rapid response nurses and in Telehomecare. They serve the communities of Sault Ste. Marie, Sudbury, North Bay, Parry Sound, Timmins, Kirkland Lake and in remote satellite offices in Moosonee and Wawa. ONA First Vice-President Vicki McKenna says the nurses “provide excellent front-line care, school health support services and therapy services…”
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62,000 – 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:
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