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: email@example.com.
ONA media releases are available on our website and distributed via Canada Newswire.
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.
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 5: Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit nurses have agreed to a new contract (Simcoe Reformer, July 5, 2018). The Ontario Nurses’ Association Local 7 members have a new four-year deal that includes a two per-cent increase retroactive to January 1, followed by increases of 1.5 per cent, 1.5 per cent, and 1.75 per cent in the final year of the contract.
June 21: Local 7 of the Ontario Nurses’ Association gave Norfolk council “an earful” this week (Simcoe Reformer, June 21, 2018). The nurses blasted the council chamber with bullhorns during council’s meeting, reminding them “that its members continue to work without a contract.” Local 7 president Melanie Holjak is a maternal and child health nurse in Caledonia and Simcoe. She said her colleagues are losing patience with the slow pace of bargaining – the nurses have been without a contract since December 31. “It’s been a very long process,” she said. “We have had seven days of bargaining and have applied for conciliation. We’re out here because we’re very frustrated with how long it has taken to get this far. We want a fair collective agreement.” Holjak says the nurses entered negotiations with 100-per-cent support for a strike if negotiations failed. The Local did strike for 12 days in 2012. Norfolk Mayor Charlie Luke said he had not heard that negotiations were taking an unusually long time. Norfolk council – as the board of health for both counties – sets parameters for the negotiations and expects staff to remain within them. “It’s unfortunate they feel that way and that they aren’t being treated with respect,” Luke said. The nurses in the Bargaining Unit are RNs and Nurse Practitioners.
June 20: The Canadian Press (June 20, 2018) reports that Doug Ford has promised to exclude nurses, police, corrections officers, firefighters and teachers from a hiring freeze in the public sector. Ontario Nurses’ Association President Vicki McKenna said that excluding nurses from the hiring freeze is “the right thing to do,” adding that hospitals are already dealing with thousands of nursing vacancies.
June 20: The head of the Ontario Nurses’ Association says that incoming Premier Doug Ford’s pledge to exclude nurses from a public service hiring freeze is the right thing to do (Broadcast News, June 20, 2018). Vicki McKenna says hospitals in Ontario already have thousands of RN vacancies.
June 7: ONA President Vicki McKenna says that the real work of Ontario’s new PC government is just beginning (CBC News, June 7, 2018). McKenna told CBC that “certainly, healthcare is… my life, it’s my work, it’s–I’m a registered nurse and represent nurses right across this province and so we’re looking for Mr. Ford and his government to pay attention to healthcare, to talk to us about the issues. We want to be at that table.” She noted that ONA has reached out throughout the campaign with no response from the PC Party, but will persevere. “It’s important to work alongside governments, no matter who they are, and we’ve got a tough world right now that we’re in,” she said. “We’re 10,000 minimum short RNs in our hospitals, we’re short everywhere across the sector, and we want real solutions and we want improvements in the healthcare system and I think Ontarians do, too.”
June 6: ONA Vice-President Andy Summers has been interviewed about the provincial election and the future of health-care in Ontario (CHML AM Hamilton, June 6, 2018). Talk show host Bill Kelly notes that everyone talks about health care and “no government seems to be able to do much or want to do much about it.” ONA sent a letter to PC Leader Doug Ford asking him to provide numbers for his health-care plans. Summers notes that Ford says his emphasis is finding “efficiencies, which concerns us as nurses enormously.” Summers says that nurses are already stretched very thin in health care, and that there are 10,000 RN vacancies in our hospitals right now. If employers say they cannot afford to fill those vacancies now, he says, what will happen in a Ford government with a four-per-cent cut in the budget?
June 1: ONA President Vicki McKenna has written an open letter to PC Leader Doug Ford urging his party to release a fully costed platform on health care (North Bay Nugget, June 1, 2018). “Ontario nurses feel we can no longer stay silent about the Progressive Conservative Party’s lack of a full health care platform and your proposal to ‘find efficiencies’ in government spending,” the letter from McKenna said. “As advocates for our patients, nurses know that cutting four cents of every dollar spent by government will mean at least $6 billion in cuts.” ONA says that cuts to health care will mean worsening surgical wait times, and even longer waiting lists for long-term care beds.
May 31: CBC News (May 31, 2018) reports that Ontario’s nurses are “not happy” with the PC party’s election platform. The PCs have not released a costed platform and it is just one week before the election. ONA President Vicki McKenna says that Ford’s promise to “find efficiencies” will mean thousands of job losses. “We’re worried,” she said. “Here’s what I see – I’m not a mathematician. I am a nurse and I can add and subtract, and what I’m hearing makes me very uncomfortable.”
May 31: ONA President Vicki McKenna says that Ontario patients and nurses deserve to know the details of the PC Party’s proposal to “find efficiencies” (CFMJ AM, May 31, 2018). McKenna says that nurses have experienced “efficiencies” in health-care before. High occupancy issues are the reality. “I think…people understand…there’s always this eye on efficiency and cutting and reducing,” she said. To nurses, the word efficiency means cuts. “And quite frankly, we’re in a situation now where there is no more” to be cut. Nurses are at the breaking point, she said. Cutting revenue, as PC Leader Doug Ford has promised, will mean hurting health care. McKenna said she sent a letter to Ford on May 15 to request a meeting; ONA did not receive a response until the morning of her interview. Appropriate nurse staffing is number-one on ONA’s list of priorities.
May 31: ONA President Vicki McKenna wrote an open letter to Doug Ford calling on him to release detailed financial information that was missing from the platform the PCs released earlier this week (CBC News, May 31, 2018). “Ontario nurses feel we can no longer stay silent about the [party’s] lack of a full health care platform and your proposal to find ‘efficiencies’ in government spending,” she wrote. McKenna told CBC “We know that will hurt our patients. We know that will hurt Ontarians and we don’t believe it’s right…We don’t need a further hit to health care. What we need is a stabilization to health care.” A PC party representative responded a CBC query about the letter, reiterating Ford’s health-care commitments. “The Ontario PCs are committed to working with our front-line health care professionals, not against them like the Liberals. We will listen to front-line medical professionals, including our hard-working nurses … Our message to our hard-working nurses is that change is coming and help is on the way.”
May 31: ONA Region 3 Vice-President Andy Summers says the union’s open letter to Doug Ford expresses nurses’ anxiety about the PC party platform (CP24, May 31, 2018). “How little has actually been said about these efficiencies, this $6 billion in cuts, it makes us really nervous, and we’ve asked him to clarify what it means.” Summers adds that “all nurses know what efficiencies look like. You know, efficiencies look like those lengthy lines in the emergency room; those hallway nursing; those people waiting for care; the people in community denied access to treatment. We’ve seen these efficiencies before and-and we think it’s quite possible that that’s what’s going to happen now.”
June 1: As Doug Ford denies breaking a promise to provide voters with a fully-costed platform before June 7, ONA has called on the PC leader to clarify where he would make cuts to government spending (The Hamilton Spectator/Waterloo Region Record/Niagara Falls Review/Peterborough Examiner, June 1, 2018). The union is concerned that Ford’s promise to find “efficiencies” to cut government spending by billions will mean major cuts to health care. Ford maintains his assertion that he can find the savings without laying off a single person. “If anything, I’m going to do the contrary…When the economy starts going and it starts booming in Ontario, we’re going to need more nurses, more doctors, more teachers, more police officers, that’s what we’re going to need.”
June 1: Doug Ford says he’s “not breaking my promise” as he fails to provide voters with a fully-costed platform (Toronto Star, June 1, 2018). “We have a dollar figure right beside every single item. It’s very clear,” says Ford. He is referring to the list of campaign pledges and their price tags that was posted online, but with no explanation of how a PC government would pay for them. ONA is calling on Ford to release a detailed financial plan, fearing cuts to health care –which accounts for more than 40 per cent of provincial spending- under a PC government. A Western University economist, who tracked all three parties’ campaign promises estimates that by the end of four years, a PC government would be running deficits higher than either the Liberals or the NDP.
May 31: The Ontario Nurses’ Association says patients and nurses deserve to know what a PC pledge to cut $6 billion in government spending will mean for health care (CFZM AM, May 31, 2018). The union also wants to know how the party would fund its health-care commitments if elected.
May 31: Ontario Nurses’ Association President Vicki McKenna, RN, wrote an open letter to Doug Ford calling on the PC leader to release a fully-costed platform on health care, clarifying how the party would fund its health-care commitments if elected (www.nugget.ca, May 31, 2018). “Because health care funding amounts to 42 per cent of government spending and due to the absence of details about your plans, we have to assume this means your proposal to find ‘efficiencies’ will result in $2.5 billion cut from health care spending. Cutting $2.5 billion in health care spending is equal to cutting 25,000 registered nurses from the bedside.”
May 28: Public health nurses working for Norfolk County and Haldimand County hope to avoid a strike (delhinewsrecord.com, May 28, 2018). Thirty-three members of the Ontario Nurses’ Association have been without a contract since December 31. “It’s imperative that this employer steps up and offers our nurses a fair contract. Our nurses deserve dignity and respect from their employer. Our community wants their nurses caring for them. We do not want a repeat of the strike six years ago,” says ONA President Vicki McKenna.
May 28: Public health nurses working for Norfolk County and Haldimand County hope to avoid “the unrest” that led to a strike in 2012 (Simcoe Reformer, May 28, 2018). Thirty-three members of the Ontario Nurses’ Association have been without a contract since December 31. “It’s imperative that this employer steps up and offers our nurses a fair contract. Our nurses deserve dignity and respect from their employer. Our community wants their nurses caring for them. We do not want a repeat of the strike six years ago,” says ONA President Vicki McKenna.
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.
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
- 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 (firstname.lastname@example.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:
- Nursing Homes.
- Homes for the Aged.
- Public Health.
- Community Care Access Centres.
- Home Care.
- Family Health Teams.
- Community Health Centres.
ONA members include:
- Registered nurses.
- Nurse practitioners.
- Registered practical nurses.
- Occupational therapists.
- Radiation therapists.
- Social workers.
- Medical Radiation Technologists.
- And more.