Nurses and Supporters Hold Mass Rally for Better Staffing, Better Wages and Better Care as Hospital Contract Negotiations Wrap Up

March 2, 2023

TORONTO, ON., March 2, 2023 – Thousands of Registered Nurses, health-care professionals, supporters and labour allies held a long and loud protest today on Queen Street in Toronto, followed by a march to Queen’s Park to voice their support for a better contract for Ontario Nurses’ Association (ONA) hospital members.

While the elected ONA contract bargaining team was holding its second day of mediation inside a Queen Street hotel, protesters ensured the Ontario Hospital Association (OHA) bargaining team was made aware of their message: nurses and patients expect a better deal.

“A better contract for nurses is the single best thing we can do to address staffing issues and improve our public hospital care for patients,” says Bernie Robinson, RN, ONA Interim Provincial President. “Nurses demand better – for our patients, communities and health care. The community united with us to voice just how urgent the need for a better contract is.”

A better contract with wages that account for more than a decade without a real increase would help stabilize staffing, bring nurses back and attract people into nursing. Sustainable staffing levels would help stabilize wait times and improve the quality of patient care.

Robinson says that more of the same inadequate working conditions will only deepen the existing staffing crisis, further eroding our public system, worsening wait times and opening the door for more of Premier Doug Ford’s wasteful privatization measures that only benefit for-profit companies, at the expense of average Ontarians already struggling to pay the bills.

“Our next hospital contract will profoundly impact the future of our health-care system,” says Robinson. “We are calling on the OHA and hospital CEOs to join nurses in putting our patients and public health-care system first by negotiating an agreement that enshrines our priorities.”

Should an agreement not be reached today, ONA and the OHA will enter into arbitration on May 2 and 3.

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

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Melanie Levenson