TORONTO, May 28, 2021 /CNW/ – At a virtual rally held today, hundreds of outraged nurses and health-care professionals sent a loud and clear message for the Ford government: repeal Bill 124 now.
Ontario Nurses’ Association (ONA) members, nursing leaders, health-care union leaders and politicians gathered on Zoom to call for an end to the bullying of nurses and health-care professionals by the province.
“Nurses and health-care professionals are passionate about what we do,” says ONA President Vicki McKenna, RN. “However, after more than a decade of contracts that do not reflect the value we bring to the health-care system, we are saying enough is enough.
“Our hospital sector members are awaiting the release of an arbitration decision – the second in two years under the constraints of Bill 124 – regarding a new collective agreement,” she says. “If last year is any indication, our members will again see the arbitrator say the legislation has tied their hands, and that our members’ rights to free collective bargaining have been breached.”
McKenna notes that Ontario nurses and health-care professionals have been battling the pandemic while also short-staffed and inadequately protected from airborne and asymptomatic transmission of COVID-19. They have put themselves and their families at risk in order to provide care to Ontarians and have still been subjected to wage-suppression legislation that targets mostly female professionals.
McKenna and First Vice-President Cathryn Hoy note that since 2010, the real wages of hospital RNs and health-care professionals have declined by five per cent, when inflation is factored in. These highly skilled professionals have also faced increased rates of workplace violence and short staffing. The Ford government has also passed legislation that overrides their existing collective agreements, enabling their employers to order them redeployed to any other unit or health-care facility, deny or cancel their leaves or vacations; some of these workers have not had access to paid sick leave when ordered to self-isolate after workplace exposure to COVID-19.
“Our front-line registered nurses and health-care professionals have put their health and lives on the line to provide care for their patients for more than 13 months, and have been pushed beyond exhaustion,” says McKenna. “If this province hopes to recover from the pandemic and clear the enormous backlog of surgeries and procedures, we simply have to have the recognition and respect from government that is beyond deserved. Repeal Bill 124 now.”
ONA is the union representing more than 68,000 registered nurses and health-care professionals, as well as 18,000 nursing student affiliates, providing care in hospitals, long-term care, public health, the community, clinics and industry.
SOURCE Ontario Nurses’ Association