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) 416-964-8240; 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:

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…”

February 28: My North Bay Now and My Espanola Now (February 28, 2017) report that ONA members with the North East CCAC have ratified a new agreement. ONA First Vice-President Vicki McKenna says the nurses and allied health professions provide excellent front-line care, school health support services and therapy services.

February 28: ONA members working at the Northeast Community Care Access Centre have ratified a new negotiated settlement (CKAT AM 600, February 28, 2017). The approximately 300 nurses and allied health professionals work in North Bay, Sudbury, the Sault, Timmins, Parry Sound and Kirkland Lake.

February 14: CTV News Windsor (February 14, 2017) reports that a number of employee contracts are up for renewal this year. In addition to support staff working for Sun Parlour Home looking for a new deal, the Ontario Nurses’ Association, which represents the nurses at Sun Parlour, will be in negotiations.

February 16: The Delhi News-Record (February 16, 2017) reports that Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit has cut its nurse practitioner. The NP has bridged the gap in health-care services for 15 years at health units in rural communities. The Haldimand-Norfolk NP provided services to mothers and babies through prenatal and postnatal care. ONA First Vice-President Vicki McKenna says that, “in yet another decision that puts dollars ahead of our patients’ health, this employer has chosen to cut our highly educated nurse practitioner and opt for the community’s new mothers, babies and families to pay the price.” ONA says funding for the NP role is still available to the health unit, but the board of health has justified the cuts by saying the “healthcare landscape in Haldimand and Norfolk has changed since 2002.”

February 15: The nurse practitioner will no longer exist at Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit following the decision to cut the NP position (Brantford Expositor, February 15, 2017). The report says that for 15 years, NP services have been offered through health units as a way to bridge the gap in health services offered to rural communities. A protest against the cut took place on the Queensway in Simcoe, just down the road from the health unit building. The health unit’s NP provided services to mothers and their babies. ONA First Vice-President Vicki McKenna says that this is “another decision that puts dollars ahead of our patients’ health.” The funding to the health unit for an NP is still available, says ONA, but the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit, along with the board of health, has refused funding from the Ministry of Children and Youth Services for the NP position.

February 11: The Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit has cut its only nurse practitioner (Simcoe Reformer, February 11, 2017). The report says that for 15 years, NP services have been offered through health units “as a way to bridge the gap in healthcare services offered to rural communities.” The April 2 layoff of the local NP inspired a protest on the Queensway in Simcoe. The NP cared for mothers and their babies through prenatal and postnatal care. ONA First Vice-President Vicki McKenna said in a statement, “In yet another decision that puts dollars ahead of our patients’ health, this employer has chosen to cut our highly educated nurse practitioner and opt for the community’s new mothers, babies and families to pay the price.” Local coordinator Melanie Holjak said she’s concerned for the mothers in Haldimand and Norfolk who don’t have access to a doctor. The NP “does not deliver babies,” explained Holjak. “She does resume care for those families with no family doctor…” The health unit and board of health justified the cut by saying that the health-care landscape has changed.

February 9: Ontario nurses say that front-line health workers are exposed to traumatic events similar to those of first responders, veterans and the military (CBLA FM, February 9, 2017). That’s why they are now pushing to be included in federal legislation regarding PTSD. ONA Vice-President Vicki McKenna says that “your work every day is to work with people who are dying. Those kinds of situations can cause people great distress, and lead to PTSD.” Nurses in Ontario have “already been shut out” of provincial PTSD legislation, says the report.

February 10: Ontario Nurses’ Association Vice-President Vicki McKenna says that nurses in Ontario and across Canada will push to be included in Bill C-211 (CBC News, February 10, 2017). The private member’s bill proposes the creation of a national framework for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) that, so far, is aimed at first responders, veterans and the military. McKenna is “still feeling the sting” from being excluded from Ontario’s PTSD law, which makes it easier for first responders to access treatment and benefits by removing the need to prove PTSD is linked to a workplace event. McKenna says that nurses are exposed to trauma in the workplace to rival any paramedic or police officer in the field. “When you work with people who are dying, those kinds of situations can cause people great distress and lead to PTSD.” In addition, “A public health nurse going into a home visit…they walk into situations where there are guns, where there is violence, where there is abuse…those things build up over time.” CFNU President Linda Silas says she believes the fact that 94 per cent of nurses are women might be playing a role in their being excluded. “When you’re talking about female workers, the symptoms of PTSD are very different,” she said, and are often misdiagnosed as depression.

February 9: Front-line nurses should be included in proposed federal legislation regarding post-traumatic stress disorder (CBC Radio 1, February 9, 2017). The bill, now facing second reading in the House of Commons, would create a national framework for supporting those coping with PTSD. ONA First Vice-President Vicki McKenna says that every day nurses are dealing with situations that “cause great distress” and can lead to PTSD. Nurses in Ontario were already shut out of provincial PTSD legislation introduced last year.

February 8: Ontario Health Minister Eric Hoskins says he “joins those who are concerned about the sustainability” of the province’s health-care system (Broadcast News, February 8, 2017). ONA has been calling for more health-care funding, noting that more than 1,600 RN positions have been cut in a two-year period. However, Hoskins says that more than 2,000 nurses have been hired in the past three or four years.

February 8: The Kenora Daily Miner & News (February 8, 2017) report on the resignation of the Ontario Medical Association board also reports on the health minister’s response to the call from ONA for increased funding. ONA said that funding needs to be increased as RN positions are cut and attacks on nurses rise. Both Eric Hoskins and Premier Kathleen Wynne told reporters that the federal government needs to increase transfer payments, and that Ontario will continue to increase health-care funding.

February 8: Following a call from the Ontario Nurses’ Association to increase funding “as registered nurse positions are cut from hospitals and attacks on nurses are rising,” the Health Minister says he is concerned about the sustainability of the province’s health-care system (Hamilton Spectator, Canadian Press, February 8, 2017). Both nurses and the Ontario Chamber of Commerce raised concerns about the system. At a health-care announcement, the Premier and Health Minister answered questions on sustainability by discussing the ongoing dispute with the federal government over health transfers. Wynne says that Ontario will continue to increase health-care funding every year, but the federal government needs to “foot more of the bill.”

February 7: ONA is calling for more funding and a minimum of four hours of care per day for residents of long-term care facilities (680 News Toronto, February 7, 2017). ONA says that should include 48 minutes of RN care. First Vice-President Vicki McKenna says that it’s vital that long-term care funding be provided to ensure quality care; inadequate funding is hurting residents and exposing their nurses to increased workplace violence.

February 7: The Ontario Nurses’ Association is calling for more funding and a minimum of four hours of care for residents of long-term care facilities (Canadian Press, February 7, 2017). ONA says that should include 48 minutes of RN care. First Vice-President Vicki McKenna says it’s vital that long-term care funding is adequate for residents to receive that quality of care they deserve. Inadequate funding is hurting residents and leading to nurses to increased workplace violence.

February 1: The Ontario Nurses’ Association and North East CCAC are seeking more contract talks (Northern Daily News, February 1, 2017). The two sides wrapped up two days of negotiations on Friday and plan more bargaining. The approximately 300 ONA members have been working without a contract since March 31, 2016, and ONA First Vice-President Vicki McKenna says they are “striving to be treated in the same way as their counterparts across Ontario.”

February 1: A letter to the editor of the Hamilton Spectator (February 1, 2017) from ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says that each week, we see another story about hospital overcrowding and overcapacity. “This is not the way for our patients to receive the care they require,” she writes. Haslam-Stroud believes that Ontario hospitals obviously need more than the 2016 two-per-cent increase they received, if “they have any hope of maintaining current services.” She writes that the government’s decision to flat-line funding for hospitals at zero-per-cent growth in fiscal years 2012 to 2015 “has consequences. This decision directly led to the elimination of more than 1,500 registered nurses’ positions in the last two years. The current funding has not been enough to “slow down the replacement/deletion of RNs; getting your care in hallways from fewer RNs is not the future any of us want,” she writes. Haslam-Stroud urges people to call their MPP to demand at least a three-per-cent increase in hospital funding for 2017, as their care depends on it.

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:

Read past issues:

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

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:

  • 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.