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:

  • January 18: CBC News (January 18, 2019) reports that a Kitchener registered nurse’s successful rehabilitation and return to work following an opioid addiction is a “success story.” The case was taken to arbitration by ONA and arbitrator Larry Steinberg wrote that the woman’s addiction was a disability; the region, in firing her, “violated the procedural duty to accommodate the nurse,” the arbitrator ruled. While there are some critics of the decision, Dr. Yelena Chorny, a physician at Homewood Health Centre in Guelph, says the rate of health-care professionals with addiction issues is similar to the general population, but they have a higher success rate when it comes to recovery. A large part of that is due to the monitoring they undergo following treatment. She has seen other nurses succeed and says they deserve a second chance. ONA says the nurse sought treatment, and has adhered to her recovery plan.
  • January 16: An RN fired from a Kitchener long-term care home for stealing opioids must be rehired and compensated for “injury to dignity, feelings and self-respect,” according to an arbitrator’s decision (TheRecord.com, January 14, 2019, reprinted in the Toronto Star, January 16). The nurse was addicted to opioids when she stole the narcotics from Sunnyside Home over a two-year period. The arbitration decision found that her addiction is a disability and that the Ontario Nurses’ Association established prima facie discrimination. Arbitrator Larry Steinberg said in his ruling that that “evidence shows beyond any doubt that there is a connection or nexus between [her] substance use disorder and the adverse effect of termination of employment for violation of admittedly valid workplace rules.” Most psychiatrists consider opioid addiction disorders to be a health condition; the Ontario Human Rights Code says that “every person has a right to equal treatment with respect to employment without discrimination because of…disability.” The RN has undergone treatment for her addiction; she became addicted to opioids when she was prescribed the drugs following kidney problems. She was prohibited from practicing by the College of Nurses of Ontario until June 2017, when she was allowed to return to nursing if she followed treatment recommendations and met several other conditions. Sunnyside management said they could not accommodate her. The RN’s physician testified that the risk of relapse was not large if she follows her recovery program.
  • January 16: A report in the Waterloo Region Record (January 16, 2019) says that ONA considers the arbitration decision to return a registered nurse back to her workplace “a success story.” The RN, who admitted to stealing narcotics from residents at the long-term care home in which she worked, was found to have been discriminated against. In a statement, ONA said “addiction is a recognized disability that is protected by the Ontario Human Rights Code, and everyone in Ontario, including nurses, deserves to have their rights honoured as per the Human Rights Code.” The union goes on to say that the opioid epidemic is a serious matter in North America and care providers are no less vulnerable than the rest of the population. ONA notes that the RN readily admitted her illness, sought treatment, and has adhered to her recovery plan. She has been deemed fit to return to practice with some restrictions.
  • January 12: A group of demonstrators – including ONA member Christine Spence – rallied outside the office of Nipissing MPP Vic Fedeli Friday (Sudbury Star, January 12, 2019). The rally was organized by the Ontario and Sudbury health coalitions and was intended to draw attention to the impact of recent cuts to the region’s health-care system. Spence, who works at Health Sciences North, says, “The cuts that have taken place within the last year don’t only influence Sudburians, but they are also going to influence all of the Northern people who are referred to our hospital.” She says the cuts mean we have less access to quality health care, and highlighted longer wait times for tests, such as MRIs, CT scans and ultrasounds. Spence said, “We’re asking the Northern communities…to step up and start demanding that our hospital cuts be rolled back and that the services be restored. Balancing the hospital budget on the backs of our health care professionals means that we’re headed toward an even deeper downward spiral of long waits and cuts.”
  • January 11: The Ontario Nurses’ Association – representing nurses at the County-run H.J. McFarland Memorial nursing home – has negotiated a new contract with the municipality (Countrylive.ca, January 11, 2019). The nurses will receive a wage increase of 1.4 per cent retroactive to April 1, 2018 and a 1.75-per-cent increase effective April 1, 2019. In addition, the nurses will see a change in contract language to support efforts to hire new nursing graduates, and some benefit improvements. County Chief Administrative Officer James Hepburn said “arriving at this negotiated collective agreement in such a timely manner is a testament to the mutual respect that the municipality and ONA have strived to foster over the past several years.”
  • November 27: Peterborough Public Health and the Ontario Nurses’ Association have reached a tentative agreement (Global News, November 27, 2018). ONA represents 31 public health nurses at the health unit, serving more than 135,000 residents in the city, county as well as Curve Lake and Hiawatha First Nations. The tentative agreement was reached at mediation on Monday.
  • November 27: The Peterborough Examiner (November 27, 2018) reports that a tentative deal has been reached between the local health unit and the Ontario Nurses’ Association. Following a “long day” of mediation Monday, ONA President Vicki McKenna says the new deal is one that “our bargaining team can feel good about taking to their membership. That was really key…we’ll hear later on how they make out.” The new deal must be ratified by both sides. Details won’t be made public until after ratification votes.
  • November 28: Peterborough Public Health Nurses have voted to ratify a tentative new contract reached this Monday in mediation (Peterborough Examiner, November 28, 2018). The 31 Ontario Nurses’ Association members had been without a contract for more than a year. ONA President Vicki McKenna says the union “is pleased that our 31 Peterborough Public Health Nurses have voted to accept a tentative new contract…our members look forward to continuing to provide their valuable services to the people of Peterborough City and County as well as the Curve Lake and Hiawatha First Nations communities.” The board of health is expected to vote on the deal later this week.
  • November 23: Ontario Nurses’ Association members working for Peterborough Public Health are headed to mediation Monday (Global News, November 23, 2018). The public health nurses have been without a contract since October 2017 and could be on strike on November 28. ONA President Vicki McKenna says the 31 nurses provide care for 130,000 people. “As nurses, we never want to be forced to withdraw our vital services,” she said, “including disease outbreak control, ensuring new families can care for their infants, and providing injury prevention and health education at schools. Our first priority is the health and well-being of our communities.”
  • November 23: Peterborough Public Health Nurses are heading into mediation talks on Monday, two days ahead of a legal lockout/strike date (Peterborough Examiner, November 23, 2018). The 31 ONA members have already completed four days of negotiations and one day of conciliation. Bargaining Unit President Diane Lockman says the union is willing to come to the table ready to compromise to reach an agreement, and if the employer does the same, “we won’t be that far apart.” ONA President Vicki McKenna says the nurses must be able to fulfil their roles and meet the needs of residents of Curve Lake, Hiawatha First Nation and Peterborough city and county residents.
  • November 23: The 58 Public Health Nurses working for Thunder Bay District Health Unit are back at work after a weeks-long strike (CBC News, November 23, 2018). The Ontario Nurses’ Association members went on the picket lines on October 16. They have a new four-year collective agreement, which the nurses ratified on the weekend. “There’s lots of work to do ahead, but they’re positive,” said ONA President Vicki McKenna. “It’s been really hard.” She adds that the new agreement addresses many of the nurses’ concerns about workload, staffing issues and wages.
  • November 10: The Ontario Health Coalition is urging Sudbury residents to come out Monday to support their neighbours and hospital (Sudbury Star, November 10, 2018). It is hosting a town hall to ultimately stop job cuts at Health Sciences North. Natalie Mehra, executive director of the OHC, said on Friday that more than 100 full-time-equivalent nurses, support staff and health-care professionals from across dozens of departments are being cut at the hospital. She said, “The capacity at the hospital has been dramatically downsized for decades now. You are at a point in this community where you don’t have enough capacity as it exists to provide for the needs of the population. I was shocked to hear the scope of the cuts that are proposed.” She adds that more cuts cannot be allowed to happen. ONA paramedical group Bargaining Unit President Michelle Beaudry says that her members have suffered 35 job losses “and we’ve lost numerous hours of part-time work. The nurses have lost more than 70 positions, which means you’re going to be short more than 127,000 hours every year of nursing care. How can we do this with those cuts?” The RN cuts equal 5.6 per cent of the total number of RNs at Health Sciences North. Sudbury residents are being urged to come together to tell Doug Ford that Sudburians will not stand for more cuts.

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
18,000 – 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.
  • Local Health Integration Networks.
  • 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.