Outraged Ontario Hospital RNs Taking Action to Fight Wage Suppression Legislation

June 12, 2020

TORONTO, June 12, 2020 – In the wake of a successful Charter challenge against Manitoba’s wage-suppression legislation and outrage at the impact of similar legislation in Ontario, the Ontario Nurses’ Association (ONA) is calling for an immediate exemption for its members from Ontario’s wage-suppression legislation, Bill 124.

“The Manitoba decision clearly shows that what ONA and other public-sector unions have alleged in our own Charter challenges is true,” says ONA President Vicki McKenna, RN. “Bill 124 interferes with Charter rights regarding free collective bargaining. It has widened the gender pay-equity gap and the impact on the morale of our dedicated RNs and health-care professionals, working under tremendously challenging circumstances during this pandemic, has been devastating. ONA and our members are absolutely outraged at the suppression of wages that will see hospital RNs and health-care workers limited to a one-per-cent increase. When releasing the decision, the arbitrator said his hands were tied when it came to monetary issues. He was forced, because of the bill, to hold their wage increase to one per cent.”

ONA members have sent more than 20,000 emails to Premier Doug Ford in just the past two days, demanding that nurses be exempt from the bill as a matter of equity, fairness and respect.

“Our passionate, dedicated members are sending an average of 800 emails to the Premier every hour,” says McKenna. “This is a clear sign that we have all reached the breaking point after seeing wages suppressed for the past decade, by successive governments.”

Bill 124 limits wage increases for public-sector workers – including nurses – to a maximum of one per cent per year for three years. McKenna says that the need for the quality care ONA members provide has never been more evident than during the pandemic, and the government should do the right thing and rescind this legislation now.

“The outcome of arbitration and the one-per-cent per year increase has been the tipping point for frustration among our members,” notes McKenna. “Hospital nurses and health-care professionals are quite rightly outraged by the lack of respect they have been shown by this government. ONA and its highly skilled members are asking to be recognized with an increase that simply keeps up with the rate of inflation, which they have not seen since 2010. At a time when the province desperately needs its RNs and health-care professionals to provide quality patient care, it is vital that we attract and retain more nurses to the system. RNs and health-care workers are not an expense, they are an invaluable asset.”

McKenna urges every Ontarian to go to ONA’s website (www.ona.org/bill124) where they will find a link to send an email to the premier to withdraw Bill 124. “The pandemic has shown us the value of health-care services and those who provide it,” she says. “Nurses and health-care professionals are there for you, at great risk right now to themselves and their families. Please support them now.”

ONA is the union representing more than 68,000 registered nurses and health-care professionals, as well as more than 18,000 nursing student affiliates, providing care in hospitals, long-term care facilities, public health, the community, clinics and industry.


For more information:

Sheree Bond (416) 986-8240; shereeb@ona.org