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:

  • September 6: Negotiations between ONA and the Hastings Prince Edward Public Health Unit are heading to mediation (The Belleville Intelligencer, September 6, 2018). ONA members at the health unit have a strike date of Sept. 25. “If we go on strike … then our children aren’t going to be receiving their vaccinations,” Bernadette Robinson, the union’s regional vice-president, said Wednesday morning while picketing outside the health unit’s headquarters. Robinson said that salary increases and proposed changes to short-term disability are the main issues for the 43 members.
  • September 1: ONA celebrates its 45th anniversary of advocating for nurses and patients (Toronto Star Labour Day Insert, September 1, 2018). “ONA’s role has always been to speak out on behalf of members and to strive to improve nurses’ working conditions and their practice environments, so nurses and health-care professionals can focus on their vital role – providing quality patient care,” says ONA President Vicki McKenna, RN.
  • August 30: More than 40 ONA members working at Hastings Prince Edward County Public Health may end up on strike next month (CountryLive.ca, August 30, 2018). ONA President Vicki McKenna says that members have been working without a contract since December 31, 2017. The groups have had several days of negotiations and two conciliation days, and the next step is mediation. The nurses provide a range of services in Hastings and Prince Edward counties, including vaccination clinics.
  • August 19: ONA President Vicki McKenna says Health Sciences North has informed its ONA Local of RN positions to be cut (Sudbury.com, August 19, 2018). McKenna says ONA has been told of the equivalent of 60.5 full-time RN positions to be cut, leading to poor morale among nurses because there will be fewer of them and they will be asked to do more work, leading them to be concerned about the impact the cuts will have on patients. “This is not the health care the people of Sudbury expect or deserve,” said McKenna. The hospital’s former chief nursing officer says HSN’s hours of nursing care per patient days is in line with the average in Ontario. However, McKenna points out that Ontario hospitals are the most poorly staffed with nurses in the country. The RNAO has joined in supporting ONA’s efforts to speak against the RN cuts.
  • August 24: While Ontario Nurses’ Association members working in provincial hospitals have a new two-year contract, concern remain about the wage increases (CJOJ FM, August 24, 2018). More than 61,000 ONA members will see wage increases of 1.4 per cent retroactive to April 1 and 1.75 beginning April 1, 2019. ONA President Vicki McKenna says the increases do not reflect the value of the care they provide.
  • August 23: ONA members working for Hastings Prince Edward Public Health could go on strike (MOOSE FM Bancroft, August 23, 2018). The 40 RNs and RPNs have been working without a contract since December 31, 2017.
  • August 23: In an op-ed submitted to The Sudbury Star, the Ontario Nurses’ Association warns that Health Sciences North (HSN) will cut more nursing staff (August 23, 2018). ONA President Vicki McKenna writes the hospital has “once again” given the union “a long list of registered nurses whose jobs are to be eliminated.” The hospital has been cutting RN positions throughout the year. “To date, the equivalent of 60.5 full-time RNs have been cut, or just under 118,000 hours a year of RN care for our patients…ONA expects to hear of more RN cuts in the coming weeks.” McKenna writes that RNs will be joining other hospital workers at a rally on Sept. 14 to protest HSN cuts. She encourages concerned citizens to speak out as well. “Ontario has a new provincial government, and Premier Doug Ford has promised that no nurses will lose their jobs in his search for ‘efficiencies’ in public spending… Your dedicated nurses ask the people of Sudbury to speak up now to stop the RN cuts and cuts to your caregivers, and ensure safe, high quality patient care.”
  • August 9: ONA members in northwestern Ontario and across the province have a new collective agreement (DrydenNow.com, August 9, 2018). The arbitration decision gives nurses wage increases of 1.4 per cent retroactive to April 1, and a 1.75 per cent increase in 2019. Nurses will also have access to mental health services under the new contract.
  • August 2: The Ontario Nurses’ Association didn’t get “everything it was looking for” in a new two-year arbitrated award impacting 61,000 hospital nurses (CFOB Fort Frances Radio, August 2, 2018). The award, which is retroactive to April 1 of this year, includes wage increases of 1.4 per cent (first year) and 1.75 per cent (second year). “These wage increases do not reflect the value of the care of our dedicated members. They are significantly higher than the increases proposed by the [Ontario Hospital Association]. This contract is certainly not everything our dedicated registered nurses and health-care professionals hoped it would be. However, the award does provide for some improvements in benefits, and it clarifies that the obligation to keep workplaces free from violence includes being free from domestic violence,” says ONA President Vicki McKenna. McKenna is pleased that none of the concessions the OHA was seeking were accepted by the arbitrator.
  • July 20: Windsorsquare.ca (July 20, 2018) has published ONA President Vicki McKenna’s column on the proceedings of the long-term inquiry. McKenna notes that there have been surprises, even to those who are familiar with the health-care sector. For instance, testimony was given about the impact of budget cuts on the coroner’s office – the practices related to investigating long-term care home deaths have been changed and investigations are now left to the discretion of local coroners. When a resident dies, the nurse or physician now fills out a death form which asks if the death was “sudden or unexpected.” If the answer is yes, the coroner should investigate. In the case of one of Elizabeth Wettlaufer’s victims, the nurse and an ER physician both flagged the death but the coroner declined to investigate. The coroner testified that he finds it difficult to consider that a long-term care resident could ever be intentionally harmed by a health-care provider. “That goes to the heart of how we, as nurses, feel about this case,” writes McKenna. As for the coroner’s system, it, too, is underfunded. Coroners are appointed for life and receive little training. The province’s chief coroner, Dr. Dirk Huyer, testified that he hopes to change the system and have a reappointment system that would require continuing education, re-education and force coroners to reapply for their jobs every three to five years.
  • July 15: The Nursing Graduate Guarantee program is “under review” raising fears that it risks being cut as the nursing workforce is experiencing its lowest growth in 10 years (Hamilton Spectator, July 15, 2018). “We have been signaling this problem for a very long time,” said ONA President Vicki McKenna. “The demographics in our workforce is very concerning. We have lots of nurses working beyond age 55 and 65 but at the same time they are eligible to retire and many will.” The NGG program provides new Ontario nursing grads with temporary full-time employment for 20 weeks, which could lead to permanent full-time work. However, a CIHI study notes that just over one-quarter of new grads received full-time work. “What graduating nurses are telling me is they want full-time work,” notes McKenna. “They’re going to other jurisdictions to get it.” RNAO’s Doris Grinspun said “They didn’t even call me to tell me this program was under review. They have never notified me to this day.”
  • 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.

Behind the Front Lines

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

Read the latest issue:

In this issue:

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

Read past issues:

In this issue:

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

In this issue:

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

In this issue:

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

In this issue:

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

In this issue:

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

In this issue:

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

In this issue:

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

In this issue:

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

In this issue:

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

In this issue:

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

In this issue:

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

In this “Year in Review” issue:

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

In this issue:

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

Speak to an Expert

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

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

ONA Fast Facts

65,000 – ONA members
16,000 – Nursing student affiliate members
63 – Number of ONA Locals
500+ – Number of ONA Bargaining Unit Presidents

ONA represents members in the following workplaces:

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

ONA members include:

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