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Posted September 21, 2021

Ontario Nurses' Association
Dear ONA member,

It was a long-time coming. On Monday, Arbitrator Gedalof finally released the hospital decision affecting our 60,000+ hospital members.

As expected, because of Premier Doug Ford’s Bill 124 wage suppression law which, in reality, has taken away our right to freely bargain, the arbitrator has awarded a one-per-cent wage increase for registered nurses and health-care professionals effective April 1, 2022. Gedalof also awarded increases in night shift and weekend shift premiums as well as some positive language around health and safety, a fundamental issue that ONA has been advocating for over the past while.

Although the arbitrator was constrained by Ford’s Bill 124 law, with compensation limits of one per cent, Gedalof failed to address ONA’s core demands related to the pervasive gender wage gaps and gender discrimination consistently faced by our members.

Nurses are a predominantly female profession, and Bill 124 specifically exempts male-dominated professionals, such as police and firefighters. The real impact of Bill 124 is a widening of the gender wage. ONA offered both the hospitals and the arbitrator a way to address this very troubling theme within the restrictions of Bill 124. Neither the hospitals nor the arbitrator was willing to address this issue.

Click here to read the hospital decision summary and additional documents, including the draft collective agreement.

This disappointing and devaluing hospital decision rests squarely on the shoulders of Doug Ford. His government used their majority provincial government powers to push through the discriminatory and unconstitutional Bill 124 legislation that imposes the three-year period of caps on wages.

Hospital decision worsens the nursing shortage

By forcing front-line nurses and health-care professionals to accept compensation increases that fall well below the rate of inflation, Ford’s Bill 124 law greatly worsens what is already a very serious nursing shortage, which is now turning into a nursing crisis. Many nurses have told us that they are leaving the profession and their jobs due to Bill 124 and the government’s disrespect.

Laws that prohibit wage increases that not only don’t keep up with inflation but also don’t value the essential work of nurses must be repealed. Although ONA has launched a Charter Challenge, it will take some time to make its way through the courts. Possibly, years, in fact.

Attend a Telephone Town Hall on Wednesday, September 22

ONA First-Vice President Cathryn Hoy, CEO Beverly Mathers, Chief Negotiator Steve Lobsinger, the Hospital Central Negotiating Team and I will host a telephone town hall for our members to hear the details of the decision.

The town halls will be on Wednesday, September 22 at 5:30 p.m. (EDT) for Regions 3 and 4 and then at 7:30 p.m. (EDT) for Regions 1, 2 and 5. When you receive the call, please stay on the line and you will be connected. If you are not able to answer the phone, you will receive a message with the phone number that you can call back to join the town hall.

Alternatively, we are offering a streaming online link at https://video.teleforumonline.com/video/streaming.php?client=14432 that you can click on to listen to the town hall. Streaming participants will receive an audio feed from the town hall and will be able to submit questions through the interface.

#BlameFord

I know many of you, like me, are beyond angry and frustrated that you have been disrespected and devalued by the Ford government, employers and arbitrators, especially after all that you have gone through during the pandemic. I stand with you.

So many of you have taken action – organizing and participating in rallies, writing letters, phoning and meeting MPPs, using social media – to fight back on Bill 124, and we must continue this important work.

We will be working hard to ensure that the public understands our concerns about Bill 124, and there are many. We are respected health-care professionals who care for people at their most vulnerable moments.

The least the government could do is to do the right thing: recognize the shortage of nurses and the work of all health-care professionals and repeal Bill 124.

Once again, we need to use our collective power to tell MPPs that Bill 124 has got to go, or they will go on June 2, 2022, Ontario election day.

Today, we launch a province-wide selfie campaign. Social media is powerful in public conversations and MPPs watch it constantly. We are going to use this as one way to immediately show our reaction to the hospital decision and place the blame where it needs to be – squarely on the government. Together, we need to share our knowledge on the impact of Bill 124.

Here is how you can participate

Visit https://www.ona.org/stop/ and download and print one of two posters. Take a selfie holding the campaign poster.  Send in your photos to onamail@ona.orgor send ONA a direct message to ONA on Facebook. Selfies will be shared on ONA’s social media feeds. Add the following hashtags to your post: #BlameFord #NursesDeserveBetter #HealthProfessionalsDeserveBetter #StopBill124.

We will let the Ford government know we have come way too far putting ourselves at risk, struggled far too long, and sacrificed way too much to be swept under the rug without a fight – and we know how to fight for what’s right – and we will win!

Our social media campaign is the first action that ONA will be launching with your participation to put the Ford government on notice. Ford and his elected majority government must remember that NURSES AND HEALTH-CARE PROFESSIONALS VOTE! I know that we can count on everyone to join the campaign to show the Ford Conservatives that we are not stopping and that nurses and health-care professionals are a cohesive force.

In Solidarity,

Vicki McKenna, RN
President


Ontario Nurses’ Association · 85 Grenville St, Toronto, ON M5S 3A2, Canada

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Posted September 15, 2021

To help you make an informed decision, ONA has launched its federal election page, which contains many resources including key facts on the nursing shortage, where the political parties stand on several issues, and more. Be sure to check it out so you can make an informed decision on September 20.


Posted September 8, 2021

Ontario Nurses' Association
Dear ONA member,

Many employers across Ontario have introduced policies related to COVID-19 vaccinations for staff. Some workplace policies exceed the minimum statutory requirements, which are outlined in government directives and/or legislation, imposing a leave of absence or termination for nurses who are unvaccinated.

ONA’s position on the COVID-19 vaccine

ONA recommends that you, as a health-care worker receive the vaccine, if you are able to do so. However, this is a decision that needs to be made by you based on voluntary and informed consent.

While COVID-19 vaccinations are beneficial, they are not a complete and holistic solution. Vaccines are part of a comprehensive health and safety and infection control program, and we expect all employers to comply with the Occupational Health and Safety Act and take every precaution reasonably necessary to protect the health and safety of workers. This includes easy access to, and the use of, N95 respirators or equivalent or better and other personal protective equipment. We also encourage employers to remove the barriers that are likely causing vaccine hesitancy. Our members have told us that some employers are making little effort to facilitate staff vaccination uptake, which can impact overall vaccination rates.

ONA and grievance management

We have seen hospitals, long-term care, LHINs/HSSCCs and other sectors introduce policies that exceed the minimum legal requirements outlined in ministry directives for vaccines. For example, several employers have introduced “vaccinate or terminate” policies. These policies mandate that employees should be fully vaccinated by a particular date. If employees fail to do so, they will either be placed on an unpaid leave of absence under the threat of termination and, if they remain unvaccinated at the end of the temporary leave, their employment relationship will end.

ONA will file grievances only for nurses or health-care professionals who are disadvantaged through the imposition of a leave of absence or termination. It is important to note if you are terminated, you will need to mitigate your losses. Mitigation will be challenging given widespread pre-hiring COVID-19 vaccination requirements now in place and employees who are refusing the vaccine should be advised to consider the challenges of mitigating losses in the current context.

Please be advised that ONA has not made a final determination whether to proceed to arbitration with these grievances. Despite our position, it is uncertain whether ONA would be successful in challenging suspensions or terminations imposed as a result of mandatory vaccination policies. We are considering the terms of our collective agreement, provincial laws, and the Charter. ONA is also undertaking a full legal analysis generally, for each policy, and each individual nurse on a fact-specific case-by-case basis.

ONA will not file grievances against vaccination policies that adopt the following measures, subject to the exceptions noted below.

Vaccine Status or Proof

  • Requirement to disclose vaccine status or proof that there is a medical reason for not being vaccinated or reasonable information related to other human rights grounds such as religious exemption. There should be appropriate safeguards in place to protect the privacy of employee personal health information. In particular, vaccination status should be shared with Occupational Health and only disclosed with managers for specific purposes related to COVID-19 and outbreak management.

Education

  • Requirement for vaccine education for unvaccinated employees and discipline for refusing to attend vaccine education will be upheld as reasonable if we proceed to arbitration.

Testing

  • COVID-19 testing for vaccinated and unvaccinated staff. ONA will not file grievances on regular testing for unvaccinated and/or vaccinated employees. Given the reduced efficacy of the vaccine against the Delta variant, extending testing to fully vaccinated workers would also be considered reasonable and will not be grieved.

Temporary exclusion from workplace/temporary leave of absence during outbreak

  • Unvaccinated employees may be temporarily excluded from workplace/reassigned/placed on leave of absence during a COVID-19 outbreak similar to the influenza protocol in the Hospital Central Agreement.

Mandating Vaccination Pre-Hire

  • Requiring all new hires or nursing students to be vaccinated. Employer policies setting out requirements prior to the employment relationship are not within the jurisdiction of the collective agreement. ONA cannot file grievances for new hires or students. This would be relevant for unvaccinated nurses and their ability to seek alternate employment or seek recourse for mandatory vaccination policies pre-hire.

Personal Protective Equipment

  • ONA objects to differential treatment of vaccinated and unvaccinated nurses when it comes to personal protective equipment. Employers should take reasonable precautions to ensure universal health and safety precautions in the workplace, including that all nurses regardless of vaccination status should be wearing an N95 respirator where there is a risk of both airborne and contact transmission of COVID-19. Directive 5 is also unchanged and still remains in effect. There is no shortage of PPE!

ONA holds Telephone Town Halls

ONA CEO Beverly Mathers, First Vice-President Cathryn Hoy and I are cohosting Telephone Town Halls on Wednesday, September 15 to discuss the vaccine policies, ONA’s position and answer any vaccine-related questions that you may have.

For members in Regions 3 and 4, the Telephone Town Hall will take place from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. For members in Regions 1,2 and 5, it will be held from 7:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. When you receive the call, please stay on the line and you will be connected. If you are not able to answer the phone, you will receive a message with the phone number that you can call back to join the town hall.

If you have any questions, please contact your Bargaining Unit President. They are your best resource to answer your questions.

In solidarity,

Vicki McKenna, RN
President


Ontario Nurses’ Association · 85 Grenville St, Toronto, ON M5S 3A2, Canada

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Posted September 4, 2021

Ontario Nurses' Association
Dear ONA member,

I am proud to wish you all a Happy Labour Day, a time in which we renew and acknowledge our continuing commitment as union members – and nurses and health-care professionals – to work to improve the lives of all Ontarians.

This past year has challenged us like no other. Our members continue to face many uncertainties in workplaces as we are now in the fourth wave of COVID-19. ONA is proud to continue to advocate on your behalf for strong infection prevention and control protocols and ready access to appropriate PPE. ONA has led the battle to protect our members and all health-care workers including in the courts fighting to ensure that protections are in place for airborne transmission.

And, we continue to fight Bill 124 with our Charter Challenge in the court. It will take some time – years perhaps – but we will not give up. In the meantime, we continue to negotiate collective agreements despite the challenges, proceeding with our proposals developed based on your needs as identified in the Have-Your-Say questionnaire.

I have witnessed many of our members voice their concerns and become union-activists in their workplaces. I am truly heartened by this surge in members’ advocacy and I encourage you all to become involved in your union. Talk to your unit representative or Bargaining Unit President – I know they will welcome any help – large or small – that you are able to offer.

You can help us to make your workplaces, our health-care system and our communities better for everyone. Help us to continue to build our union movement to improve Ontario, together.

Even as we continue to follow public health guidelines, the spirit of solidarity is prominent as we mark Labour Day. While many events have been cancelled, we will be able to celebrate by way of online events. Visit ONA’s website (https://www.ona.org/news-posts/labour-day-2021/) for more resources and information on Labour Day, including posters and shareables for use on social media.

ONA is your union and your future.

In solidarity,

Vicki McKenna, RN
President


Ontario Nurses’ Association · 85 Grenville St, Toronto, ON M5S 3A2, Canada

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Posted August 31, 2021

Nurses are more burnt out than ever.

As Labour Day approaches, we’re showing solidarity with workers by highlighting some of their stories and experiences during the pandemic.

Today we’re showcasing the story of Birgit Umaigba, who has been working as a registered ICU nurse throughout COVID-19. The last year has been incredibly rough—and now nurses are often working more hours than they were at the height of the pandemic. They’re overworked and exhausted, with many people quitting nursing entirely.

The Ford Conservative government continues to deny nurses better pay and their right to free and fair collective bargaining. We have to keep fighting back.

Workers are the Recovery!

Read Birgit’s full story and share your own story about being a worker during the pandemic by using #RealPeopleRealImpact.

toronto.ctvnews.ca/an-alarming-exodus-ontario-nursing-sector-slammed-with-staffing-shortage-as-many-rethink-careers-1.5522610

In solidarity,

The Ontario Federation of Labour


Posted August 28, 2021

Ontario Nurses' Association
Dear ONA member,

Southlake Hospital senior management has announced its plan to implement a Pre-Sponsorship Program in the ICU and the implementation of a team-based model of care in the ICU.

Registered Nurses (RNs) and Registered Respiratory Therapists (RRTs) in the ICU, CVICU, CICU have joined together, united, behind their demand that the CEO and Board of Directors stop these initiatives. They asked to meet with the Board of Directors. This is senior management’s solution to RN recruitment. Pre-sponsorship positions and team-based nursing in the ICU put patients and staff as risk. This is not the solution. The RNs and RRTs requests were denied.

RNs and RRTs are concerned that the Pre-Sponsorship positions will not be provided full education and training in critical care nursing prior to working in the ICU. They will not have successfully completed the critical care course. Existing expert ICU RNs will no longer be able to focus on providing 1:1 care because they will be coaching and mentoring and assuming care as necessary. There is a potential for miscommunication, improper assessment, missed or delayed care and other errors. As a result of the employer’s plan, expert ICU RNs are leaving. This impacts the ICU’s ability of provide the critical care that patients need and the necessary support for newly hired RNs.

Ninety-five per cent of the RNs and RRTs in the critical care areas have signed postcards expressing their demands to the Minister of Health, Christine Elliott. They want her to do the right thing and intervene on behalf of the safety of patients who require critical care in Newmarket-Aurora. The have asked to meet with her to hear their concerns directly.

Minister Elliott has not yet accepted their request to meet. I invite you to join RNs and RRTs to deliver their postcards and make their demands in person. Together let’s hold the Minister of Health accountable for patient, staff safety and quality critical care that the patients and communities they serve need and deserve.

As nurses and health-care professionals, it is crucial to support the Southlake RNs and RRTs who are taking a stand for safe quality critical care. We must ensure that education, training, and models of care provide a safe practice environment for patients and staff. We do not want to stand by and let the standard of care in critical care areas be eroded because of historic and on-going retention and recruitment issues that have been exacerbated by this pandemic. In many cases, across this province these issues are a result of government and management decisions or inaction.

What: Rally to Stop Pre-Sponsorship and team-based nursing model of care in the ICU

When: Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Time: 10-11 a.m.

Where: In front of the Minister of Health Christine Elliott’s MPP Constituency office, Unit 22 16635 Yonge St. Newmarket, ON.

We are strictly adhering to COVID-19 protocols as set by Public Health for outdoor gatherings. To participate, you must wear a mask covering your mouth, nose and chin and maintain two meters of distance between yourself and other participants. Organizers will require social distancing during the rally.

Please bring handmade signs. They are personal and have an impact. There will be some ONA handheld and large flags. Please only use the slogans listed below for your signs. They ensure we are clearly communicating our goals and focusing on the decision-makers who have the power to make the changes patients and staff need.

Stop Pre-Sponsorship ICU Program Now! Patient safety is at risk!
Critical patients need 1:1 skilled nursing care
Minister Elliott – Please listen to front-line staff. Protect ICU Patients Now!
Front-line staff to Minister Elliott – hear our concerns
Stand up for strong ICU care in Newmarket-Aurora!
Stand Up for safe quality care at Southlake
Patients Deserve High Quality Care – Not a Lesser Substitute
Patient lives depend on fully trained ICU nurses
Southlake training puts patients at risk!
Cutting training is cutting care
Cutting corners on training hurts patients
ICU Patients Need Full Care, Not Less
Southlake training model cuts corners. At what cost to patients?
Patient Safety is #1 for us
Mentoring New RNs takes Time, Fix ICU RN Staffing Shortages, Don’t Make it Worse!
Stop Burnout and the Crisis in ICU Staffing
Full training for ICU Nurses is critical. Patient safety at risk!
Let’s Hire Fully Trained ICU Staff
Full training for ICU RNs at Southlake now!
Full Training Now for All ICU RNs! Safe Practice = Safe Care
You can’t make a critical care nurse in 15 days!
Retain ICU RNs! Full Training for new Recruits

Together, we must collectively show the Minister of Health, Southlake senior leadership and the Board of Directors that nurses deserve full education and training and that any model of care must make patient and staff safety the #1 priority.

In solidarity,

Cathryn Hoy, RN
First Vice-President


Ontario Nurses’ Association · 85 Grenville St, Toronto, ON M5S 3A2, Canada

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Posted August 24, 2021

From the Canadian Labour Congress

Canada has the worst record for COVID-19 deaths in long-term care homes compared with other wealthy countries, according to a recent report released by the Canadian Institute for Health Information.

69% of COVID-19 deaths in Canada were in long-term care.

This is a direct result of decades of cuts and increasing privatization. Private care homes focus on profit, not patients.

Long-term care needs to be part of the public health care system.

Canada votes on September 20, 2021. Ask your candidate to end privatized long-term care.

Call on your candidate to make LTC part of our public health care:

https://workersvote.ca/long-term-care/

Recovery has to include a strong health care system that doesn’t leave anyone behind. Let’s vote for a better way.

-Elizabeth

Elizabeth Kwan
Senior Researcher
Canadian Labour Congress
Standing up for workers and their families

Canadian Labour Congress/
Congrès du travail du Canada

2841 promenade Riverside Dr
Ottawa, Ontario K1V 8X7
613-521-3400


Posted August 24, 2021

Ontario health-care workers warn of ‘brutal’ nurse shortage as hospitals brace for 4th wave

Critical care nurses in southern Ontario say they’ve reached a breaking point as their colleagues leave in droves and those left behind struggle to keep up. (Evan Mitsui)

Critical care nurses in southern Ontario have reached a breaking point after they say more than a year and a half of brutal pandemic work and stagnant pay has led to a staffing shortage so severe they believe it’s putting patients in danger.

Full article available here


Posted August 23, 2021

Labour Day 2021

Labour Day is a statutory holiday that takes place on the first Monday in September. While many Canadians may simply think of Labour Day as the unofficial end to the summer, it is actually a day of great significance for the labour movement and workers’ rights.

In 1872, at a time when unions were still illegal in Canada, a demonstration was held in support of striking workers from the Toronto Typographical Union who were fighting for a shorter work week. What began as a group of 2,000 workers marching through the city streets became a parade of 10,000, standing together at Queen’s Park in solidarity. Prime Minister John A. Macdonald sided with the workers and eventually passed the Trade Union Act, which repealed outdated laws and decriminalized unions.

Source and details available here


Posted August 23, 2021

Nurses in Ontario — and across the country — call for action on staffing crisis

The current pandemic has hurled us toward a full-blown nursing crisis.

In virtually every part of the country, in every health-care setting, there isn’t enough front-line staff to provide the quality care that Canadians need. Our health-care system stands at the brink of catastrophe.

Niagara nurses protest against government decisions that are threatening their profession and the entire health care system.

Full article available here.


Posted August 17, 2021

Ontario Nurses' Association
Dear ONA member,

The Ministry of Health (MOH) has issued Directive #6 regarding mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations, in accordance with the Health Promotion and Protection Act (HPPA). This supports the government’s focus on promoting vaccination of health-care workers to ensure safety for workers and patients.

Directive #6 applies to:

  • Public hospitals within the meaning of the Public Hospitals Act, including all employees, staff, contractors, and students.
  • Service providers within the meaning of the Home and Community Care Act, including all front-line home and community care staff (employees, contractors, volunteers and students), and those supporting them.
  • Local Health Integration Networks (Home and Community Care Support Services) within the meaning of the Local Health Integration Act, including all front-line home and community care staff (employees, contractors, volunteers, and students), and those supporting them.
  • Ambulance Services (paramedics) within the meaning of theAmbulance Act.

It does not apply to long-term care homes (they are already covered by a Ministerial Directive communicated on June 3, 2021, effective July 1, 2021).

Vaccination policies will also be implemented in other higher risk settings such as:

  • Post-secondary institutions
  • Licensed retirement homes
  • Women’s shelters
  • Congregate group homes and day programs for adults with developmental disabilities, children’s treatment centres and other services for children with special needs, and licensed children’s residential settings.

Note: These will be covered by separate orders.

At this time, we are not aware of orders for public health, primary care, and community mental health.

Under the Directive, employers must develop vaccine policies consistent with the Directive, to be effective on September 7, 2021. The new Directive requires employers to implement a policy containing the following requirements, for those described above, to do one of the following:

  1. Provide proof of full vaccination against COVID-19; or
  2. Provide written proof of a medical reason for not being fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and the effective period of time for the medical reason; or,
  3. Provide proof of completing an educational program approved by the covered organization, about the benefits of the COVID-19 vaccination prior to declining vaccination for any reason other than a medical reason. These sessions must at a minimum address:• How COVID-19 vaccines work.
    • Vaccine safety related to the development of the COVID-19 vaccines.
    • The benefits of vaccination against COVID-19.
    • Risks of not being vaccinated against COVID-19.
    • Possible side effects of COVID-19 vaccination.

Where an individual chooses not to be vaccinated (or to disclose their vaccination status) and participates in the education program or has a medical exemption, they will be required to participate in a regular antigen point-of-care testing program, and demonstrate continued negative test results, in accordance with the provincial guidance on antigen testing. At the current time and stage of reopening, it is expected this testing will be required at least once to three times per week. This may increase subject to public health orders or in the case of outbreaks.

Organizations will be required to verify test results; the method of verification will be at the discretion of the organization.

Compliance with one of the above is to be tracked and reported to the MOH in a manner that does not identify individuals.

This Directive confirms ONA’s position that while vaccines should be strongly encouraged, vaccines are not mandatory and, in fact, some employees will not be able to be vaccinated for reasons protected by human rights legislation, for example, disability or religion. Employees who are not vaccinated may be reassigned to non-patient care areas, if available.

Remember, even if you are fully vaccinated, vaccines do not provide 100-per-cent protection. Variants of concern continue to be an issue. Vaccine status does not change the need to access personal protective equipment (PPE) and comply with Directive #5.

COVID-19 vaccinations, while beneficial in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, are not a complete answer, but only part of a comprehensive health and safety and infection control program. ONA expects all employers to comply with the Occupational Health and Safety Act and take every precaution reasonably necessary to protect the health and safety of workers. This includes easy access to, and the use of, N95 respirators and other PPE.

ONA encourages employers to remove the barriers that are likely causing vaccine hesitancy. Some employers are making limited meaningful effort to facilitate staff vaccination uptake.

On May 20, 2021, Public Health Ontario (PHO) confirmed what ONA has been saying throughout the pandemic, that COVID-19 can be aerosolized in circumstances other than aerosol generating medical procedures. I encourage all ONA members and health-care workers to ensure they are using PPE appropriate for airborne precautions (an N95-fitted respirator or equivalent or above) when caring for a patient or client with suspected, probable, or confirmed COVID-19. The point of care risk assessment (PCRA) should include the mode of transmission of COVID and the patient’s COVID status.

Despite our past successes with the influenza vaccinations, this situation is different. ONA has recently seen arbitrators providing employers with leeway to manage COVID-19. ONA will continue to fight to ensure your rights are enforced!

Please look for this and other government Directives and related documents on our COVID-19 webpage.

ONA has attended a briefing on the Directive and reviewed the government’s press releases. At this time, we do not have a copy of Directive #6 but will post it as soon as it is available. We are fighting on your behalf.

Vicki McKenna, RN
President
Ontario Nurses’ Association (ONA)


Ontario Nurses’ Association · 85 Grenville St, Toronto, ON M5S 3A2, Canada

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Posted August 12, 2021

Ont. emergency order holds nurses ‘basically hostage’

An interview with Cathryn Hoy, the vice president of the Ontario Nurses Association, on why her colleagues are leaving.

Maija Kappler7 minute read August 12, 2021
nurses quitting Ontario
A respiratory therapist and six nurses prepare to prone a coronavirus disease at the intensive care unit of Humber River Hospital in Toronto. CARLOS OSORIO / REUTERS CARLOS OSORIO / REUTERS

Cathryn Hoy became a registered nurse because she wanted to help people. But there’s a big difference between wanting to help, and being dehumanized and forced to sacrifice your own wellbeing — which is what the Ontario government forced nurses to do over the course of the pandemic, she says.

Hoy, vice president of the Ontario Nurses Association, says she’s not surprised by the endless headlines about nurses across the country leaving the industry in droves. Job vacancies in healthcare have risen by nearly 40 per cent since last year, according to Statistics Canada, with the most need for registered nurses, registered psychiatric nurses, nurses aides, and practical nurses.

Full article available here


Posted August 12, 2021

Shared with permission

To the Editor of the Hamilton Spectator
Over the last 18 months, Registered Nurses have been recognized by Ontarians as a critical part of Ontario’s health service, and the support has not gone unnoticed. The Ford Government has claimed to support Registered Nurses, but their introduction of Bill 124 shows that government support is entirely performative. Bill 124 and its ongoing impact on the healthcare outcomes of Ontarians and the overall integrity of the Ontario healthcare system cannot be understated.
As members of an educated and trustworthy profession, we are disappointed in the lack of support and respect that Registered Nurses have been shown by the Ford Government. The deliberate unwillingness to exempt nurses from Bill 124 shows blatant disregard for the work nurses have done for years and continue to do during this pandemic.
Bill 124 was introduced in 2019 to freeze public sector wage increases at 1% per year during a four year contract. Many of our frontline public sector peers, including firefighters, police, and paramedics are exempt from this bill. While our communities are cared for by numerous frontline staff, the Ford Government continues to only acknowledge the work done by male dominated sectors.
Over a four-year contract, firefighters are receiving a 10% raise and police are receiving an 8% raise. In May of 2021, Stats Canada released that the rate of inflation is currently 3.4%, meaning nurses are effectively taking a pay cut every year.
Furthermore, nurses experience greater rates of violence than other male dominated public sector jobs. While other hazardous and dangerous jobs are acknowledged and compensated with danger pay, nurses are not. The International Nursing Review published data in 2001 showing that healthcare workers experience workplace violence at a rate 16 times greater than any other public servant. In fact, nurses are significantly more likely to be attacked at work than a police officer or a prison guard.
In addition, healthcare workers have higher rates of lost time as a result of workplace violence than any other profession. According to the WSIB, sectors claiming the most lost-time for injuries include healthcare, manufacturing, and construction. In 2017 there were 863 healthcare claims for lost time as a result of workplace violence, while manufacturing had 119 claims, and construction 19.
During the pandemic, nurses only received four months of danger pay, which ended before the second major wave of COVID-19. We work with all types of illnesses while providing compassionate and skilled care despite not receiving meaningful recognition from the Ford Government for the mental and physical harm endured by healthcare workers.
The nurses of Ontario are an essential service and are therefore not legally allowed to strike. This inability to strike has permitted the Ford Government to continue to take advantage of us. The COVID-19 crisis is a demonstration of the importance of our profession in the wellbeing of Canadians and how nurses are exposed to life threatening illness daily. Even so, the Ford Government refuses to acknowledge our experiences in a meaningful way.
In March 2021, the RNAO released the results of a survey that are cause for concern regarding patient safety, patient care, and health outcomes in Ontario hospitals. Surveyors found that between the government, employers, and the RNAO, respondents felt that the weakest level of support came from the provincial government. They also found that 26.3% of nurses aged 26-35 say they are very likely to leave the profession. Furthermore, out of the 22.2% of respondents that were eligible to retire at the time of the survey, 27.2% will retire within two years post pandemic.
With an overwhelming amount of nurses looking to leave the profession, the cycle of hospitals working short staffed and with staff burning out will severely compromise the quality of care received at Ontario hospitals and the health outcomes of Ontarians. This cycle will ultimately negatively affect the care of our communities’ loved ones.
Doug Ford has called us “Healthcare Heroes”, but time and time again refuses to put his money where his mouth is. We are asking that our time, risks, and responsibilities are acknowledged and appropriately compensated. Nurses will continue to dedicate their lives to ensure the most vulnerable populations are cared for.
Right now we are asking our communities to care for us.
Please support healthcare workers in demanding that registered nurses be exempted from Bill 124, to ensure that healthcare workers are able to continue to provide world-class public healthcare to the people of Ontario for years to come.
Sincerely,
Aaron Haines, RN and Kate Asser, RN


Posted July 15, 2021

Ontario Nurses' Association
banner

Dear ONA member,

There are several updates related to central bargaining in various sectors I’d like to share with you.

Like you, I continue to anticipate the release of the Arbitrator’s decision regarding the new hospital contract. Originally, ONA had expected that the decision would be released in June. The arbitrator is still considering his decision at this time.

Although we are still bound by Premier Ford’s Bill 124 – which will cap the total compensation at a maximum one per cent per year for each of three years – we hope to see some positive contract language that will benefit members and their needs to address workplace issues. In particular, we hope to see sections that specifically address pandemic-related issues as well as human rights and equity language and more. As always, the ONA website’s bargaining page at www.ona.org/bargaining is your best resource to keep updated.

Nursing Homes Update

As with the hospital decision, ONA hopes to see the Arbitrator’s decision on the for-profit nursing homes and the not-for-profit nursing homes in the coming while. There is a bit of a challenge in this sector regarding bargaining. The for-profit nursing homes are not bound by Bill 124, whereas the not-for-profit and charitable nursing homes do fall under the Bill. Given this, there may be a separate outcome for each sub-sector in the long-term care sector. We have no timeline regarding the release of these decisions and will keep you updated through our website, as well as by email.

Victorian Order of Nurses Decision

Last month, ONA received the arbitration decision for our members at the Victorian Order of Nurses. We were pleased to see that there were no concessions. The employer had proposed many concessions and rollbacks, and all were flatly turned down. In fact, the decision provided clarity and consolidated some language to make it consistent across the VON bargaining units, which is something that ONA has been demanding for quite some time.

As soon as we are aware of any details related to the hospital and nursing homes decisions, we will let you know via our website at www.ona.org/bargaining, through email and on social media. Please keep a lookout for more details to come.

Finally, I hope you are all able to take a bit of time over the next couple of months for some well-deserved respite, to recharge. The busy fall will be here in no time. Let’s all hope that the fall does not arrive with any further challenges from COVID-19.

Take care and be well,

Vicki McKenna, RN
President


News You Can Use


ONA’s feedback on proposed government regulations: “…inappropriate, untimely, unclear and untested…”

ONA has made a submission to the government regarding proposed home and community care regulations under the Connecting Care Act, 2019. In it, ONA states in part: “In our view, the proposals are inappropriate, untimely, unclear and untested. We strongly oppose to privatize care coordination as this would be detrimental to patient care, fiscally irresponsible and create a clear conflict of interest for Care Coordinators.”

Quick Bits and Bytes on ONA.org:

  • Read the June Board Highlights: The Board held its summer meeting to receive updates on ONA operations and to plan next steps. Read about updates to strategic planning, region updates, Constitutional amendments, and more. Click here to download the highlights.
  • Learn more: Ask A Specialist webinars: Want to learn more about the professional responsibility clause? Or how to move workplace issues forward? Sign up for one of ONA’s tailored webinars today. Sessions are available throughout the summer.
  • Join us on the ONA members-only Facebook group: ONA launched this group to create more spaces for our members to share ideas and engage with one another and ONA on issues that affect us all. More than 1,300 members have already joined, and we invite you to do the same. To join, click here www.facebook.com/groups/onamembers.
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Implement four hours of direct care for residents now!

We must keep the pressure on new Minister of Long-Term Care Rod Phillips. Send your message now to demand four hours of direct resident care be implemented now: www.ona.org/now.


 


Ontario Nurses’ Association · 85 Grenville St, Toronto, ON M5S 3A2, Canada

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Posted June 24, 2021

Ontario Nurses' Association
Dear ONA member,

We are shocked and heartbroken to learn that additional unmarked graves of Indigenous children have been found, this time 751 burial sites at a former residential school in Saskatchewan.

It hasn’t even been a month since the world learned of the discovery of 215 unmarked graves in Kamloops, British Columbia, opening the door to investigations across Canada for similar sites, and tearing a fresh wound in the hearts of our Indigenous communities.

Residential schools are a despicable part of Canada’s history. The separation of Indigenous children from their families constituted cultural genocide of Canada’s First Nations peoples.

ONA remains dedicated to diversity and the elimination of discrimination and racism in all forms. We continue to seek the valued input of our Indigenous members in helping guide us in meaningful but difficult conversations on this issue.

In sorrow and solidarity,

Vicki

Vicki McKenna, RN
President


Ontario Nurses’ Association · 85 Grenville St, Toronto, ON M5S 3A2, Canada

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Posted June 23, 2021

Ontario Nurses' Association
Dear ONA member,

Our sisters and brothers from OPSEU Local 5117 Black Creek Community Health Centre have been on strike since June 12. They were forced to do so after the employer walked away from negotiations.

This dedicated group of health-care workers serve the Black Creek and Jane and Finch areas supporting their communities mentally, emotionally, and socially. Please join them on the picket line in solidarity, so they can get the respect they deserve and continue to keep caring for their community.

Visit this page for up-to-date picket information, including locations and times as well as donation information and social media asks for support.

Purchase your “Meet the Resistance” T-shirt today Show your solidarity and purchase “Meet the Resistance” T-shirts, which are now available through the ONA eStore. As nurses and health-care professionals, we deserve respect; and we continue to hold strong. Visit this link to purchase your T-shirt today ~ click on the “Start Shopping” blue button at right to see styles and sizes. The cost per T-shirt is $25 all in, which includes shipping and taxes.

Complete the ONA Survey by June 25: A final reminder that we want to hear from you about ONA provincially as our survey is ending on June 25. Take the survey at the link below – your responses will help us to better understand your needs and how they interact with ONA at the provincial level. The survey is available in English and French:www.ona.org/survey

Participate in a research study: Researchers from CROSH and the Public Services Health and Safety Association are inviting RNs and RPNs to participate in a study exploring the mental health of nurses working in Northern Ontario during COVID-19. Learn more and participate at: https://crosh.ca/mental-health-of-northern-ontario-nurses-working-during-covid-19-study-invitation-to-participate/

Register now for “Ask a Specialist” webinar: Registration is open for sessions of “Ask a Specialist: Navigating the Professional Responsibility Workload Report Process.”

Join a one-hour webinar to be guided through the steps and to better understand the direct connections between your Standards of Practice and filing a Professional Responsibility Workload Report Form (PRWRF).

Here are the upcoming webinars for the first week of July. Please click on the applicable link to register.

Multi-sector (LHIN, Public Health, Clinic and Industry, and Home Care): PRWRF – Tips and Tricks

Learn helpful tips and get answers to your questions related to bringing the issues forward using the form, identifying organizational policies that are at risk when workload issues occur, and discussing the issues with management.

Thursday, July 8, 11 a.m.

https://ona.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_Bm0EV6B8QNuvnzeJQnXaxw

Hospital members: PRWRF – Tips and Tricks

Specifically designed for hospital-sector members, our specialists will discuss helpful tips and answer questions you may have related to bringing the issues forward using the PRWRFs, identifying organizational policies that are at risk when workload issues occur, discussing the issues with management, and so much more.

Thursday, July 8, 4 p.m.

https://ona.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_fLyWJauoScesIXFwrneP6w

Long-term Care (LTC) members: PRWRF – Tips and Tricks

In this webinar, specifically designed for the LTC sector, our specialists will provide you with answers to questions you may have related to bringing issues forward using the PRWRFs, identifying Long-Term Care Homes Act (LTCHA) accountabilities that are at risk when workload issues occur, discussing issues with management, and more.

Thursday, July 8, 7:30 p.m.

https://ona.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_CH3AcIeTQdm7N5yvJKmYDw

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

If you have any questions, please email our Professional Practice Team at registerprofpractice@ona.org.

In solidarity,

Vicki McKenna, RN
President


Ontario Nurses’ Association · 85 Grenville St, Toronto, ON M5S 3A2, Canada

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Posted June 10, 2021

Ontario Nurses' Association

Dear ONA member, your Joint Health and Safety Committee is your safety go-to!

Have you ever heard of the phrase “knowledge is power”? When it comes to health and safety, it certainly is the truth. The more you know about your workplace rights and responsibilities, the better you can use the information to prevent workplace injuries from occurring.

And, your Joint Health and Safety Committee (JHSC)? That is your go-to for all-things-safety. They have your back and will help to protect you and prevent workplace injuries and illness. During this pandemic, JHSCs have become more important than ever.


Leveraging the Power of JHSCs

ONA’s popular spring Health and Safety Caucuses – attended by hundreds of front-line members – provided much-needed information on leveraging the power of the JHSC in a pandemic.

“Given that our members work in health care, COVID-19 and its variants of concern as well as ongoing community spread are reasons to improve precautions to prevent transmission in workplaces,” notes ONA Health and Safety Specialist Michael Benoit. “JHSCs have been integral in advocating for our members so that they have access to appropriate PPE, including proper fit-testing N95 respirators.”

What the Occupational Health and Safety Act States

During the pandemic, the Occupational Health and Safety Act is still in effect. This means that the rules that are encased in the Act are still applicable and relevant. No Ford legislation – such as Bill 175 – can overrule the Act. “Our members – including JHSC member co-chairs – were reaching out to ask about whether employers can cancel JHSC meetings or employers not show up,” says Benoit. “Our answer is no – employers must continue to hold JHSC meetings, provide committee members with reports, and listen and try to resolve health and safety problems. We found that a lot of employers arbitrarily cancelled JHSC meetings, which caused many issues for our members who needed to know the facts and information to keep everyone safe.”

ONA had to step in a couple of times to tell employers that the JHSC meetings had to continue, especially during the pandemic. “It is vital that the employer and workers come together as often as possible to resolve issues that, frankly, are a matter of life and death,” he says.

No Employer Cooperation? Involve the Ministry

Sometimes, issues cannot be resolved even after much reporting and discussion with your employer, supervisors and even the CEO. It is your right to escalate unresolved concerns as high as necessary and as quickly as necessary to protect workers. This is when you may need to turn to the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development (MLTSD), and your JHSC will help you with this process. Calling the Ministry is not to be taken lightly, and your JHSC and ONA Local leaders will support. The MLTSD has the authority to inspect workplaces and issue orders to improve workplace safety.

Together, with your JHSC and ONA leaders, it is best to build the case first. If the risk is not imminent, in a letter to the CEO/Administrator, document your concerns and the remedies you are seeking that could protect workers. Outline any breaches of the Act and request action. Inform and copy the Joint Health and Safety Committee (JHSC) and Bargaining Unit President. Let the inspector know that you tried to resolve the issues by writing to the CEO for action, but the issues remain unresolved.

When the inspector comes to your workplace, ask to be part of the inspection and investigation. Take notes and document all involved, plus the details and evidence that was provided to the inspector. “Be sure to ask the inspector for a file number and when to expect the next steps,” notes Benoit. “It’s always best to capture as much information as possible with the inspector, just so that a full picture is presented.”

ONA is an email or phone call away

It is the right of all of ONA members to work in a healthy and safe work environment. Part of ONA’s mandate is to take a strong leadership role in achieving greater gains in the occupational health and safety. If you or your JHSC needs assistance, ONA is here to help. Please contact your Bargaining Unit President – here is a handy email tool: www.ona.org/bup — or if you are a Local leader, reach out to your Labour Relations Officer. ONA has many resources on hand to help you with your JHSC needs.

The Bottom Line

Your Joint Health and Safety Committee is your go-to in helping to protect you and prevent work-related injuries and illness. They are an excellent resource and they are on your side. Please reach out to them if you have any occupational health and safety concerns.


In other OHS news: bits and bytes

Attend a lecturette on June 29 at 4:30 p.m. about ONA’s new investigation guide: Health-care workers are one of the most injured/ill workers in the province. Health and safety representatives and Joint Health and Safety Committee members play an important role in advocating for all workers, but especially those that become injured/ill as a result of a workplace fatality, injury, illness, accident or exposure.

Join Region 4 Vice-President Angela Preocanin for a lecturette about ONA’s Investigation Guide to Fatality, Critical Injury, Illness, Accident, and Exposure, which will help educate those who are engaged in this important role, or for those who have an interest in knowing more about health and safety advocacy. After this session, learners will know more about:

  • The purpose of an investigation for fatality, critical injury, illness, accident, or exposure.
  • Key concepts in the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA).
  • Conducting an investigation.

ONA Health and Safety Specialists will be on hand to answer questions about this important topic. Click here to register.

Suffering from a psychological injury due to work-related COVID-19 trauma or stress?

Here what’s you need to do:

  • File a Form 6 with the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB).
  • Notify your employer.
  • Seek medical attention.

You must file a claim within six months of the date of your injury. The WSIB will make a decision on your claim. If the WSIB denies your claim, contact ONA’s WSIB Intake at WSIBintake@ona.org or 1-800-387-5580 (press 0 and ask for WSIB intake or dial extension 7721).


Ontario Nurses’ Association · 85 Grenville St, Toronto, ON M5S 3A2, Canada

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Posted June 10, 2021

Ontario Nurses' Association
Dear ONA member,

I am deeply troubled by the Ford PC government’s heavy-handed decision to block Ontarians’ rights to freedom of speech by invoking the never-before-used notwithstanding clause to strike down a recent court ruling.

This is an extreme abuse of power by Premier Ford to achieve personal gain. It shows disrespect for our courts and is a violation of our charter right to freedom of expression.

Regardless of what tactics Ford and his MPPs will use to try to muzzle our stories and messages leading up to the provincial election, WE WILL NOT BE SILENCED!

Please join us and tell the PC MPPs to vote against this clause and defend the rule of law.

Visit ONA’s webpage, www.ona.org/no-silence, to send an email to the PC MPPs, call and tell them what you think about the government’s actions, and share our social media shareable with friends, families and colleagues.

We are in this together, and we must show the MPPs that we will not be silenced.

In solidarity,

Vicki McKenna, RN
President


Ontario Nurses’ Association · 85 Grenville St, Toronto, ON M5S 3A2, Canada

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Posted June 8, 2021

Ontario Nurses' Association

Dear ONA member,

ONA extends its heartfelt condolences to the family of Salman Afzaal, 46, his wife Madiha Salman, 44, their 15-year-old daughter Yumna Afzaal and Salman Afzaal’s 74-year-old mother, who were tragically killed after a truck slammed into them as they took an evening walk in London, Ontario on Sunday evening.

The youngest member of the family, Fayez, 9, survived the attack and was in hospital on Monday in serious condition. We are deeply saddened and heart broken by all of this and our thoughts and prayers are with this young boy.

Police say the 20-year-old driver of the truck, who was arrested about 10 minutes from the scene the same evening, planned the attack and targeted the family because of their Muslim faith. He has been charged with four counts of murder and one of attempted murder.

ONA deplores any such acts of hate. We remain committed to promoting diversity, inclusion and human rights, and we continue to speak out against discrimination.

Vicki McKenna, RN
President


Ontario Nurses’ Association · 85 Grenville St, Toronto, ON M5S 3A2, Canada

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Posted May 31, 2021

Ontario Nurses' Association
Dear ONA member,

ONA is heart-broken to learn of the discovery in British Columbia of a mass grave of 215 Indigenous children near the former Kamloops Indian Residential School on the lands of the Tk’emlups te Secwépemc First Nation.

It is shameful that Canada’s history includes a residential school system, which forcibly separated Indigenous children from their families, constituted cultural genocide of Canada’s First Nations peoples.

Our hearts go out to the families and communities who experienced such grievous loss and suffered from the forced internment of children in residential schools. It is a blight and shame in the history of our nation.

ONA remains dedicated to diversity and the elimination of racism in all forms. We continue to seek the valued input of our Indigenous members in helping guide us in meaningful but difficult conversations on this issue.

Indigenous staff or members who need support can call the Indian Residential School Survivors Society (IRSSS) toll-free at 1-800-721-0066. For more information, visit the IRSSS website.

A national Indian Residential School Crisis Line has been set up to provide support for former students and those affected. Access emotional and crisis referral services by calling the 24-hour national crisis line at 1-866-925-4419.

In solidarity,

Vicki McKenna, RN
President


Ontario Nurses’ Association · 85 Grenville St, Toronto, ON M5S 3A2, Canada

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Posted May 30, 2021

Ontario Nurses' Association
Dear ONA member,

In spring 2022, Ontarians will be going to the polls to elect a new provincial government. The election will take place on June 2.

ONA, as well as many other organizations, make use of the months leading up to a provincial election to engage in advertising to amplify our members’ main concerns on issues of importance. These issues are broad in scope from working conditions and the safety of our members, laws that impose wage restraints, collective bargaining, pay equity, public spending in health care, and the ongoing government management of the COVID-19 pandemic, to name a few.

In April, the Ford government passed Bill 254, Protecting Ontario Elections Act, 2021. This is very troubling legislation because it extends the period for spending caps in the pre-election period from six to 12 months leading up to the provincial election. This means that the government requires trade unions to spend the same amount over a longer period of time – starting in May 2021.

This regressive law also prevents ONA from joining with other allies on a common campaign that would benefit our members. The government is calling this “anti-collusion.”

ONA is part of a coalition called “Working Families,” which is challenging parts of this legislation in the court as a violation of our right to freedom of expression under the Charter of Rights and  Freedoms. Bill 254 prevents labour unions and other organizations from engaging in effective political advocacy and organizing on issues of importance to their members and the public more generally in the 12-month period prior to the writ in a provincial election.

In short, it is trying to hamper our ability to criticize government policies or speak out on important public policy issues. At the same time, these restrictions imposed on ONA and other trade unions do not apply to government, setting up a double standard.

We must demand this in court because you, our members, are holding your union to engage in advertising to highlight the issues we face, which are inherently political in nature. The central tenet of the Ford government’s approach to public health is to suppress nursing and health-care professional wages, cut health-care funding, compromise the health-care environment or safety within which you work, and limit freely bargained collective agreements. ONA is taking a stand to fight Bill 254 so that your stories can be told and heard leading up to this very important provincial election.

A date for a hearing for our application is set for June 2 and 3 in the Ontario Divisional Court and it will be livestreamed. Once ONA receives the link, it will be posted on our website and promoted on our social media channels. Please tune in to watch some of the proceedings.

I will keep you informed of updates related to our work on this very vital issue.

In solidarity,

Vicki McKenna, RN
President


Ontario Nurses’ Association · 85 Grenville St, Toronto, ON M5S 3A2, Canada

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Posted May 24, 2021

Ontario Nurses' Association

Dear ONA member,

Every day, I hear your horrific stories of working on the front lines of this pandemic. You are stressed and angry, and I share your outrage. The utter disrespect the Ford government has shown registered nurses and health-care professionals by passing the regressive Bill 124 is unfathomable.

The Ford government seems to be picking and choosing who is worthy of receiving recognition. Nurses and health-care professionals deserve a fair wage increase too! This year’s hospital collective bargaining arbitration decision will likely be released by the arbitrator at the end of May or in June. With Premier Ford’s Bill 124 still law, it is likely that hospital-sector members will not be awarded more than a one-per-cent wage increase.

ONA continues our strong advocacy work, demanding that Premier Ford repeal Bill 124. So far, more than 47,000 people have emailed their MPPs to express their concerns. It would be a very strong statement if we can exceed 50,000 emails. Please share this link with your colleagues, friends and family to help us reach that milestone: www.ona.org/bill124.

Our joint press conference with three other unions last Tuesday was a success that garnered many media highlights including this one and this article. Our phone zap last Thursday saw many of our members call and email their MPPs about how Bill 124 affects them, and this Friday, we are planning an action-packed virtual rally.

Please join us for ONA’s “Virtual” Rally on Friday, May 28 from noon to 1 p.m. Register here. The rally will be streamlined on ONA’s Facebook feed www.facebook.com/ontarionurses beginning at noon.

Our virtual rally lineup of engaging speakers includes our front-line members, Ontario labour leaders, special guests, and more – all with the same purpose: to demand the repeal of Bill 124.

We are 68,000 members strong: together, let’s show the Ford government that we are united, and we have had enough!

In solidarity,

Vicki McKenna, RN
President


News You Can Use


ONA celebrates PRIDE!

ONA is proud to recognize and support the diversity of our members and staff, and to join in the fight against discrimination based on an individual’s sexual orientation and/or gender identity. ONA believes in everyone’s right to dignity and equal treatment on the job. Check out our resources, virtual event listings, posters and shareables here: www.ona.org/news-posts/pride/

Quick Bits and Bytes on ONA.org:

  • Ford government appealing pay equity court decision: ONA is appalled that the Ford government and for-profit long-term care homes have appealed a recent decision by the Ontario Court of Appeal and have filed the appeal with the Supreme Court of Canada in an effort to deny pay equity maintenance to long-term care home registered nurses and health-care professionals.
  • Read ONA’s submission regarding Bill 283, Advancing Oversight and Planning in Ontario’s Health System Act, 2021: Our submission states, in part, “ONA maintains that this is not the time to regulate personal support workers and physician assistants in Ontario. Instead, if the government is truly serious about improving health care, the priority should be placed on recruitment and retention of RNs and PSWs and broadening the duties of nurse practitioners throughout the system. The key to solving so many of the problems blighting the Ontario health-care system is better pay and working conditions.”
  • Register now for the June Provincial Coordinators Meeting: Registration is now open for the June PCM, which will be held virtually on June 15 and 16. Click here to visit the registration page and for additional information, including how to donate to Feed Ontario.
  • Attend a lecturette on June 29 about ONA’s new investigation guide: Health and Safety Representatives and Joint Health and Safety Committee members play an important role in advocating for all workers, but especially those that become injured/ill as a result of a workplace fatality, injury, illness, accident or exposure. Join Region 4 Vice-President Angela Preocanin for a lecturette about ONA’s Investigation Guide to Fatality, Critical Injury, Illness, Accident, and Exposure, which will help educate those who are engaged in this important role, or for those who have an interest in knowing more about health and safety advocacy. Click here to register.
  • Join us on the ONA members-only Facebook group: ONA launched this group to create more spaces for our members to share ideas and engage with one another and ONA on issues that affect us all. More than 1,200 members have already joined, and we invite you to do the same. To join, click here www.facebook.com/groups/onamembersand complete the two mandatory questions AND agree to the group rules.
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COVID-19 Chronicles: ONA examines the devastating consequences that occurred in long-term care. Click here to read the detailed account.


 


Ontario Nurses’ Association · 85 Grenville St, Toronto, ON M5S 3A2, Canada

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Posted May 11, 2021

Ontario Nurses' Association
Dear ONA member,

ONA is involved in two court cases this week in the midst of Nursing Week and the court has granted our request to livestream the proceedings. You’re all invited to watch.

Urgent Judicial Review

ONA has brought an extraordinary legal challenge – an urgent judicial review application against the Chief Medical Officer of Health (CMOH) Dr. David Williams – for failing to protect registered nurses and health-care workers against the grave risks of COVID-19 in the Ontario Divisional Court. This is the first time that such a novel case will be argued in Court.

Tune in live on Wednesday, 10 a.m. at the following link:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8dNx4IX3O-4

ONA is standing with its members and demanding a safe working environment as the best possible way to demonstrate respect for registered nurses who are battling to save patients during an unprecedented third wave. ONA is calling on the CMOH to act now and protect health-care workers so that they stay healthy and be there for patients.

Despite other well-respected organizations such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization, and the Public Health Agency of Canada changing their guidance to recognize aerosol and asymptomatic transmission, Ontario has failed to follow suit and do the same.

At the heart of this case is ONA’s claim that the CMOH has failed to honour the most important lesson from the SARS Commission – the precautionary principle. This means that reasonable action to reduce risk should be taken – especially in the middle of the worst pandemic in over a century – if there is any scientific uncertainty or disagreement among experts.

ONA is seeking changes to the directives to require that health-care facilities provide N95 respirators to health-care workers to protect against a risk of exposure to COVID-19 or in higher-risk health-care environments such as long-term care, emergency departments, intensive care units, COVID-19 units and testing sites, and other settings.

Pay Equity Maintenance Challenge

On May 12 and 13, you can also watch ONA in court action (May 12: https://youtu.be/KYrOamldq3g and May 13: https://youtu.be/J_yn5IYipLw) regarding pay equity maintenance for the 10 former Community Care Access Centres (these agencies subsequently became the Local Health Integration Networks and then Home and Community Care Support Services).

ONA is seeking a judicial review to overturn a decision of the Pay Equity Hearings Tribunal that noted that unions do not have the right under the Pay Equity Act to negotiate pay equity maintenance for our members. Because of this decision, employers have been proceeding with pay equity maintenance without the unions’ fulsome input. ONA is now seeking to overturn the Tribunal’s decision so that ONA can actively and meaningfully participate in pay equity maintenance negotiations.

It is time for equal pay for predominantly female health-care workers!

I encourage you to watch ONA’s excellent legal team standing up for your workplace rights.

In solidarity,

Vicki McKenna, RN
President


Ontario Nurses’ Association · 85 Grenville St, Toronto, ON M5S 3A2, Canada

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Posted May 10, 2021

Ontario Nurses' Association
Dear ONA member,

Great news! Accelerated second-dose vaccines for high-priority health-care workers

First, a bit of good news. Thanks in part to ONA’s continuous advocacy efforts with the Ford government, health-care workers in high-risk areas will be eligible for a shortened second-dose interval. Although details are still rolling out, the following are included to be eligible:

  • All hospital and acute care staff in front line roles with COVID-19 patients and/or with a high-risk of exposure to COVID-19; all patient-facing health-care workers involved in the COVID-19 responses; community health-care workers serving specialized populations, including needle exchange/syringe programs and supervised consumption and treatment services; Indigenous health-care service providers; long-term care home and retirement home health-care workers; individuals working in community health centres serving disproportionally affected communities and/or communities experiencing highest burden of health, social and economic impacts from COVID-19; home and community care health-care workers caring for recipients of chronic home care and seniors in congregate living facilities or providing hands-on care to COVID-19 patients in the community, and more.

ONA will keep you informed of these developments through social media and on our website at www.ona.org/coronavirus.

Paid Sick Days Primer

Many of you will be aware that, after months of ONA’s pressure, advocacy and protests, the provincial government finally announced a new paid sick leave program for workers, Bill 284, the Ontario COVID-19 Worker Income Protection Benefit.

Although this program leaves much lacking and is late in implementation, I want you, our members, to be informed of exactly what you are entitled to from the government and your employers.

This is particularly relevant to members working part-time or casual. Please ensure you are aware of these new paid sick leave rights to protect yourself, your communities, and your coworkers. Paid sick leave is crucial to stopping COVID-19.

Legislation passed by the government creates a new baseline of coverage for workers in Ontario. For your reference, here is the latest information from the government relating to your sick pay entitlements: Ontario COVID-19 Worker Income Protection Benefit.

Employers are now legally required to provide three paid sick days to employees for reasons related to COVID-19, beginning (retroactively) on April 19, 2021 and ending on September 25, 2021.

This paid leave can be used for the following reasons:

  • Being sick with COVID-19
  • Having to self-isolate due to possible exposure to COVID-19
  • Caring for a dependent who is either sick with COVID-19, has symptoms of COVID-19 or is isolating due to COVID-19
  • Staying home awaiting results of a COVID-19 test
  • Going for a COVID-19 test
  • Going to get vaccinated for COVID-19
  • Experiencing the side-effects of the COVID-19 vaccination

You are entitled to this paid sick leave if you do not already receive paid sick time through your employer. A doctor’s note is not required to take this paid sick leave. Employers are reimbursed by the provincial government for the sick leave taken.

Claiming Retroactive Paid Leave

The paid leave is retroactive to April 19, 2021. This means that if you were off for any of the reasons listed above and did not receive paid leave – or received paid leave in a lesser amount that is provided for in the Bill – you can still make a claim. Claims dating back to April 19, 2021 must be made in writing to your employer by May 13, 2021. 

Value of Paid Leave

Bill 284 provides that an employee will receive the lesser of your normal rate of pay and $200 per day. Your normal rate of pay for the purposes of the paid leave does not include entitlements to overtime pay or premium pay.

If you are entitled to paid leave (usually sick leave) for any of the circumstances covered by the new paid leave, and it pays as much as the new leave, your three paid days will be reduced by the number of days available under your employment contract. For example, if you are entitled to two paid sick days under your employment contract, you will only be entitled to one additional day through the new paid leave provisions.

For those collective agreement provisions that provide for a percentage of earnings for sick pay, a calculation will need to be done to determine if that is at least $200. If it is not, the employer will be required to make up the difference to either the lesser of your normal rate of pay or $200. As an example, if you are entitled to 70 per cent of your earnings as sick pay, and that 70 per cent is less than $200, the employer would be required to make up the difference to equal $200.

Where the collective agreement does not cover a particular circumstance, such as self-isolation, the new paid leave will be applicable. Your entitlement to the new paid sick leave is in addition to unpaid Infectious Disease Emergency Leave.

Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit

In addition to this new three-day sick leave program, the federal Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB) continues to provide you with financial support for up to four weeks of leave from your work. Please note that this benefit is not new, as it has been in place since September 27, 2020.

Under the CRSB, if a COVID-19-related issue causes you to miss between 50 per cent of a work week to four whole weeks of work, you can be eligible to receive a maximum of $500 per week in pay.

Eligibility:

  • Sick with COVID-19
  • Need to self-isolate due to COVID-19
  • Have underlying health conditions that put you at a greater risk of getting COVID-19

Employees are not eligible for the CRSB if you are:

  • Receiving paid leave from your employer for the concurrent period of time
  • Already receiving any of the following for the same period:
    • Canada Recovery Benefit
    • Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit
    • Short-term disability benefits
    • EI benefits
    • Quebec Parental Insurance Plan benefits

NOTE: The provincial government has announced that it will offer to double the CRSB benefit for the four-week time, bringing the total to $1,000 per week in pay. However, this has not yet been confirmed and is still simply a proposal.

Concerns going forward

For more than a year, ONA and its members have been vigorously advocating for paid sick leave to protect themselves, their workplaces and their communities from the spread of COVID-19. Simply put, no one should be financially penalized for doing the right thing.

While this new provincial benefit is a victory stemming from all of our collective efforts, it still is not enough and has come far too late for so many.

I would be remiss if I did not mention the two paid sick days that the Ford government cancelled in Ontario back in 2018.

Workers need a seamless form of income protection during this pandemic and beyond, and the federal benefit has proven cumbersome and insufficient. Only the provincial government has the power to legislate that employers offer paid sick leave. As such, the Ford government should be implementing a longer period of paid sick leave during this pandemic and on a permanent basis that treats workers fairly and protects communities from the spread of disease.

ONA will continue to advocate for this until all Ontarians receive the coverage they deserve.

Please contact your Bargaining Unit President if you have questions.

Take care and stay well,

Vicki McKenna, RN
President


Posted May 9, 2021

Dear ONA member,

Typically, ONA’s Nursing Week is filled with celebrations, honours and light-hearted cheers. Nursing Week is not meant to be “political.”

Well, times have changed.

We are all exhausted, angry and fed up with what is happening in Ontario. There is undeniable stress in your work and workplaces. On top of it all, the Ford government has passed bills that have made your working conditions more difficult, including Bill 124, which affects wages and eliminates our right to bargain freely.

The hospital bargaining decision – I refuse to call it an award – will be released by the Arbitrator at the end of May or in June. With the Premier’s Bill 124 still law, it is highly unlikely that, despite our best efforts, we will achieve more than a one-per-cent wage increase. This, with everything that nurses have gone through, is outrageous and unacceptable.

ONA is demanding that Premier Ford repeal Bill 124.

Throughout Nursing Week there will be collective actions that you, our members, can take to not only make the Ford government aware of your anger and frustration but to demand that the government finally value nurses and take meaningful action.

Throughout the month of May, ONA is planning a series of actions that you can participate in to voice your concerns with Bill 124. We will be holding a Phone and Email Zap and a Virtual Rally. We will also be joining with several other unions – including Unifor (ORNGE), SEIU and CUPE – to hold a virtual press conference about Bill 124.

Join the movement of nurses and health-care professionals that are demanding respect, fair wages and the right to freely negotiate. Stand up and be counted as we seize this important moment before the release of the arbitration award to exercise our power as 68,000 strong and show Premier Ford that we have had enough.

Participate in our Bill 124 Phone and Email Zap! Contact the Ford cabinet and opposition party leaders on Thursday, May 20 from 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. Register Now!

Don’t miss ONA’s Facebook Livestream Rally to Repeal Bill 124 Now! Join us on Friday, May 28 from noon-1 p.m. Register Here!

ONA will continue to escalate your demands through further actions and advocacy, leading up to the provincial election on June 2, 2022. Many of our Locals and members are planning actions on social media to assist in the fight.

We are 68,000+ members strong and we must be united. We must show the Ford government that we will not continue to be bullied and ignored. We will continue to push issues that most affect you with government.

In the meantime, take a moment for yourselves this Nursing Week. Be kind to yourselves and to each other and acknowledge your courage and strength. Visit www.ona.org/nw21 for posters, shareables, and more that recognize the excellent work that you continue to do for your patients, residents and clients.

Take care, be well, and join in this fight.

Vicki McKenna, RN
President


Ontario Nurses’ Association · 85 Grenville St, Toronto, ON M5S 3A2, Canada  


Posted May 3, 2021

Ontario Nurses' Association
Dear ONA member,

Last Friday evening (April 30, 2021), the Long-Term Care (LTC) COVID-19 Commission released its final report, which contains 85 recommendations. It paints a damning picture of long-standing neglect, deficiencies in Ontario’s pandemic preparedness and a slow, reactive government response in which critical decisions came too late.

The Commission’s recommendations are far-reaching. If acted upon, they will revolutionize LTC, improve quality of life for residents while at the same time make LTC a much better work environment for its many dedicated staff.

ONA’s strong advocacy

ONA ensured that the experiences of our members were front and centre in the Commission’s investigation. ONA’s many advocacy efforts included appearing before the Commission twice; sharing results of an ONA LTC members’ survey, which is referred to in the Commission’s final report; and providing submissions and recommendations, many of which have been adopted by the Commission. In addition, 20 ONA members spoke confidentially about their experiences; another 10 members participated anonymously in group meetings, and much more advocacy work was completed. You can read ONA’s submissions, recommendations and advocacy work on our website at www.ona.org/commission.

All of this information ensured that the Commission was informed about what was actually happening on the ground during the pandemic. Your impactful stories were heard and made a difference. In fact, several ONA members are quoted anonymously in the report.

Key Findings

The Commission’s report covers four key areas:

  1. Challenges facing LTC pre-COVID-19
  2. Deficiencies in pandemic preparedness
  3. The crisis in LTC during the pandemic
  4. Best practices and promising ideas

Below is a high-level summary of key findings by the Commission.

Challenges facing LTC pre-COVID-19

The Commission finds that the LTC sector has been neglected by a successive series of governments. Health needs of residents are increasingly more complex, yet the sector is underfunded and unable to deliver the required levels of care. Staffing is inadequate, with high turnover; workloads are excessive; and there is an over-reliance on part-time workers, the majority of whom are women and many of whom are racialized. The skill mix is insufficient given the increased acuity of residents.

The Commission recommends reducing the role of for-profit “dividend-driven” operators to accessing capital and building new homes but recommends that they have no role in running homes, explaining that “care should be the sole focus of the entities responsible for long-term care.”

Deficiencies in Pandemic Preparedness

Ontario was unprepared for a pandemic, despite the key recommendations arising from SARS, which were not implemented. Although Ontario had initially “strengthened its defenses” against a pandemic, those measures were not continued, and largely not applied to LTC. Ontario lost the will to be proactive, plan and prepare for a pandemic.

The Commission is clear that the Ministry of Health did not meet its legislative obligation to plan for a pandemic. There was no up-to-date cohesive pandemic plan. Simulations and drills were not conducted.

Pandemic Crisis in LTC

The Commission finds that the province’s response to the pandemic was slow and reactive. The precautionary principle was not followed, and critical decisions came too late.

Once the pandemic hit LTC, staffing levels collapsed. Those staff who remained were required to care for residents in horrifying conditions. Their workload was unbearable, and they were given increased responsibilities. The Commission quotes from ONA’s survey that 43 per cent of respondents reported that since March 2020, they did not have an RN in the home at all times.

Despite having time to prepare, LTC homes fared even worse during the second wave. Government support was lacking, and initiatives intended to provide assistance did not produce results.

Best Practices and Promising Ideas

In Chapter 4, the Commission reviews urgent solutions needed to address historical, systemic failures of LTC and ensure that homes enact the necessary measures to minimize the risks of COVID-19 in the homes.

The Commissioners recommend that LTC homes adopt a person-centred model of care that focuses on treatment and resources based on the needs of residents and their families. In addition, the Commission finds that investment in home-care options is better for the overall health of seniors, and also eases pressure of a LTC system in crisis.

Commission’s Key Recommendations

The Commission accepted many of ONA’s key recommendations. Most importantly, they emphasize the importance of the precautionary principle and call for immediate, urgent changes to increase staffing, improve the skill mix in LTC homes and improve working conditions.

To address untenable staffing in LTC, the Commission recommends:

  • Four hours of direct hands-on care provided by nurses and PSWs. Of that, 20 per cent must be provided by RNs, 25 per cent by RPNs, and 55 per cent by PSWs.
  • One Nurse Practitioner for every 120 beds.
  • Increase care provided by allied health professionals to 60 minutes a day, per resident.

These steps must be taken immediately and urgently. It cannot wait until 2025.

Working Conditions

The Commission recognizes the importance of working conditions in LTC. They recommend:

  • More full-time positions to be created, with a target of 70 per cent of nursing and PSW positions being full-time and 30 per cent part-time. This will reduce reliance on agency and part-time staffing.
  • Wages and benefits must be aligned within the sector and with those provided in public hospitals.

Funding

The Commission recommends that funding be increased to meet the needs of residents. The Ministry of Long-Term Care should actively promote and provide funding for homes transitioning to alternative person-centred models of care.

LTC Home Development

The Commission finds that the business of LTC must be revisited. It recommends separating construction of LTC facilities, for which private capital funding is required, from the care provided in those facilities. Construction of new or redeveloped beds should be open to the private sector to access capital to build the facilities. The province would pay to use the facility, thus providing investors with a return. The province would then license not-for-profit operators or mission-driven for-profit operators (as opposed to dividend driven) to manage the home.

Compliance and Enforcement

The Commission makes a number of key recommendations around compliance and enforcement of legislative obligations, including developing a coordinated inspection regime involving the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development and public health units to ensure residents enjoy the quality of life and receive the quality of care set out in the Long-Term Care Homes Act and that a safe and healthy workplace is created for staff.

Next Steps

The Commission has made it clear that the time for action is now. There will be future pandemics and Ontario must be ready for the next time.

ONA is advocating to the Ford government to implement the Commission’s recommendations immediately. We will be launching several actions, and I encourage everyone to participate. Together, we must push for positive change in LTC. Our residents deserve no less.

The tragedy that occurred during this pandemic must never be repeated.

Take care and be well,

Vicki McKenna, RN
President

Ontario Nurses’ Association · 85 Grenville St, Toronto, ON M5S 3A2, Canada
You can also keep up with Ontario Nurses’ Association on Twitter or Facebook.

Posted April 28, 2021

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Ontario Nurses’ Association

eBULLETIN

Dear ONA member,

“I have never felt more helpless. There were too many residents dying, and I couldn’t help them all. There was also the knowledge that I could catch COVID from the non-existent PPE, but I continued to work because if I didn’t stay, there would be no staff.” – ONA member

This verbatim account from an ONA front-line member should never have happened. ONA is advocating to prevent anything like it from ever occurring again.

On April 30, the Long-Term Care COVID-19 Commission will release its final report to the Minister of Long-Term Care. ONA is hopeful that the report will include sustainable recommendations that will be implemented by the government, which will – once and for all – fix long-term care (LTC).

When the Ontario government launched the Long-Term Care COVID-19 Commission last July, it was tasked with examining the devastation that occurred as the virus ravaged this sector. Fixing LTC has been a long time coming, decades in fact. Countless reports, inquiries and other commissions have taken place in Ontario with little to no substantive changes to benefit our frail residents. Hundreds of pages of documents full of good intentions sit on shelves at various institutions, collecting dust.

ONA knew we had a big role to play in telling your horrific stories about the continued devastation occurring in LTC during the pandemic. Your stories, including the hundreds of first-hand accounts of employer inactions, lack of PPE, and gross understaffing, have anchored our submissions to the Commission. ONA developed 105 recommendations, included in one of three detailed reports submitted to the Commission. We hope our work will not be in vain, and the government quickly acts on the recommendations.

Our COVID-19 Chronicles web series broadly focuses on ONA’s role in supporting our members, workers and residents. One of our most troubling issues this past year – and there have been many – was that employers were refusing to provide proper PPE to our nurses and health-care professionals working in LTC. ONA was forced to take these employers to court to press employers to protect them and their residents. As ONA CEO Beverly Mathers points out, “In what world do workers have to take employers to court to receive basic protections from COVID-19?” ONA won, but our members continue to face significant challenges in getting proper PPE, including fitted N95 respirators.

When the Commission’s final report is released, we hope to see among its recommendations:

  • An immediate increase to funding per home to ensure there are 4.1 hours of direct care provided by registered nurses, registered practical nurses, and personal support workers.
  • Increased full-time RN staffing.
  • The adoption of the precautionary principle as a guiding principle in public health, infection prevention and control and occupational health and safety systems. It must inform every response to the pandemic.
  • Readily accessible proper PPE for all regulated health professionals and other health-care workers in the home.
  • The provision of mental health supports to employees who worked throughout the pandemic, including counseling, to be made available to employees for up to two years at no cost to them.
  • The development of a plan by the Ministry of Long-Term Care to ensure that all “for-profit” long-term care homes are eliminated and replaced by a “not-for-profit” home within the next five years.

Further information and actions will be coming after we have reviewed the recommendations from the Commission.

Take care and be well,

Vicki McKenna, RN
President


News You Can Use


Celebrate Nursing Week, May 10-16!

ONA is here to help you celebrate Nursing Week. Download ONA’s posters and shareables for your social media feeds. Take this opportunity to tell ONA why, despite everything that has arisen because of COVID-19, you take pride in being a nurse and why the work you do is so important to communities across our province. Everyone who posts a story on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook using the hashtag, #StandInMyShoes, will be entered to win a pair of Apple AirPods.

Quick Bits and Bytes on ONA.org:

PROTECT YOURSELF! ONA continues to be in dispute with the Chief Medical Officer of Health that COVID-19 can be airborne at times other than by Aerosol Generating Medical Procedures, for example, aerosol generating behaviours, i.e., shouting, coughing, spitting, singing, etc. Directive 5 allows a health-care professional to complete a point-of-care risk assessment and access PPE beyond that is required for Contact and Droplet Precautions, e.g., a N95 respirator. Such a request cannot be denied. If you are denied a mask, please advise your Bargaining Unit President, who is supported by an ONA Labour Relations Officer.

  • Read Board Highlights: The April Board Highlights are now available. Please click here to learn about updates from the meeting, including important decisions that affect our members.
  • ONA bargaining updates are here: Hospitals, nursing homes and the Victorian Order of Nurses are currently in central bargaining. Several updates have been shared with ONA members. Click here to read them, and to find out next steps.
  • Attention Indigenous members: ONA’s Anti-Racism Member Advisory Team is seeking an Indigenous member to join and participate on this amazing team. If you are interested, please complete ONA’s Expression of Interest Form here.
  • May is National Physiotherapy Month: ONA is proud to recognize the work of these highly skilled professionals by celebrating National Physiotherapy Month every May. This year, we recognize the dedication of physiotherapists who continue to work on the front lines to meet the  needs of their patients throughout the pandemic.
  • Join us on the ONA members-only Facebook group: ONA launched this group to create more spaces for our members to share ideas and engage with one another and ONA on issues that affect us all. More than 1,200 members have already joined, and we invite you to do the same. To join, click here www.facebook.com/groups/onamembers and complete the two mandatory questions AND agree to the group rules.
  • International Workers’ Day is May 1: On International Workers’ Day or “May Day” we recognize the efforts of our forebearers in the labour movement. Around the world, events are held to honour those who have worked and fought to ensure better rights, wages and working conditions for all workers, and to speak out about ongoing labour issues and injustices.
ona-newsletter-image.jpg

Sign up for ONA’s tailored health-and-safety eBulletin ONA has launched On The Safe Side, our new, tailored health-and-safety eNewsletter that addresses topical issues that affect you in your workplaces. Click on this link https://action.ona.org/hs-ebulletin to sign up. On The Safe Side is subscriber-based only, so you must register to receive the quarterly eNewsletter.


 

Ontario Nurses’ Association


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400-85 Grenville St.
Toronto, ON M5S 3A2

Tel. (416) 964-8833
Fax. (416) 964-8864
Toll-free. (800) 387-5580

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Ontario Nurses' Association
Dear ONA member,

As Ontario’s COVID-19 cases and ICU admissions continue to rise, the Ford government has revised several regulations that are intended to assist with hospital capacity and health human resources demands. The government has also revised Directive #3, as noted below.

The revisions aim to help facilitate the transfer of Alternate Level of Care (ALC) patients to long-term care and retirement homes and enable staff availability.

Amended ON Regulation 312/21 – Work Redeployment for Local Health Integration Networks and Ontario Health

This order was issued last week to enable Home and Community Care Support Service (HCCSS) staff to redeploy into hospitals. This amended order now permits the redeployment to also be to long-term care and/or retirement homes. We were advised by HCCSS that such redeployment will be strongly encouraged, but will be voluntary and subject to limitations on meeting the needs of the work in HCCSS. Any redeployments will be planned and supported by secondment agreements. In long-term care homes, redeployment will only be utilized to support patient transfers to long-term care when all other opportunities to increase staffing have been exhausted.

Revised Directive #3 for Long-Term Care Homes and Retirement Homes

This directive has been amended to enable the transfer of ALC patients to long-term care and retirement homes.

Changes include:

  • The self-isolation requirements under Droplet and Contact Precautions for new admissions from the hospital by recognizing difference based on immunization status or post-COVID status:

o Fully immunized residents – a lab-based PCR test is required at time of admission/transfer. The individual must be placed in isolation on Droplet and Contact Precautions if the test result is pending. If the test result is negative, then isolation and Droplet and Contact Precautions can be discontinued. If the test is positive, isolation and Droplet and Contact Precautions must be continued. Fully immunized means that the individual has received all doses in their COVID-19 vaccine series (i.e., both doses of a two-dose vaccine series, or one dose of a single-dose vaccine series) and more than 14 days have passed since the receipt of their last dose.

o Partially immunized or unimmunized residents – a lab-based PCR test is required at the time of admission/transfer and the resident must be placed in isolation on Droplet and Contact Precautions for a minimum of 10 days. A second negative lab-based PCR test result collected on day eight is required to discontinue isolation and Droplet and Contact Precautions on day 10; otherwise, isolation and Droplet and Contact Precautions must be maintained until day 14.

o Recently recovered COVID-19 residents – those who are within 90 days (from the date the test was taken) from a prior lab-confirmed COVID-19 infection are not required to be tested or placed in isolation on Droplet and Contact Precautions on arrival. If there is uncertainty about the validity of the recent COVID-19 infection, the long-term care home (LTCH) must consult their local public health unit. LTCHs should be aware of the potential for ongoing positive lab-based PCR results several weeks after infection.

If a single room is not available, new admissions may be cohorted together to a maximum of two per room, if appropriate.

An individual who has tested positive for COVID-19 may be admitted or transferred back to the LTCH, provided that the admission/transfer is approved by the local public health unit.

The Directive also contains changes to self-isolation for residents who have been absent from the home.

I encourage you to complete a point-of-care risk assessment prior to your interactions with newly transferred residents and/or residents who have been absent from the home. If you believe there is a risk of the resident being COVID-19 positive, I encourage you to access PPE appropriate for airborne risk, i.e., an N95 respirator or equivalent or better.

PROTECT YOURSELF!

ONA continues to be in dispute with the Chief Medical Officer of Health that COVID-19 can be airborne at times other than Aerosol Generating Medical Procedures, for example, aerosol generating behaviours, i.e., shouting, coughing, spitting, singing, etc. Directive 5 allows a health-care professional to complete a point of care risk assessment and access PPE beyond that is required for Contact and Droplet Precautions, e.g., a N95 respirator. Such a request cannot be denied. If you are denied a mask, please advise your Bargaining Unit President, who is supported by an ONA Labour Relations Officer.

Amended ON Regulation 146/20 – Limiting Work to a Single Long-Term Care Home and Amended ON Regulation 158/20 – Limiting Work to a Single Retirement Home

The changes to these two regulations permit fully vaccinated staff to work in more than one long-term care or retirement home or other health service provider. Fully immunized means that the individual has received all doses in their COVID-19 vaccine series (i.e., both doses of a two-dose vaccine series, or one dose of a single-dose vaccine series) and more than 14 days have passed since the receipt of their last dose.

ONA was not notified of these changes by the Ministry of Long-Term Care in advance. Surveillance testing requirements for employees continue, despite our best efforts to have the testing reduced.

I know that many ONA members have not received both doses of vaccine and would not be considered to be fully immunized. ONA continues to lobby and push for second doses of vaccine accelerated to health-care workers.

The Ford government continues to make changes to your work environments on Friday nights and over the weekends, and it is difficult to manage both the timing and the number of communications about these changes. We are doing our best to keep you, our members, informed of any changes.

Redeployment between hospitals

On Monday, ONA was advised by the Ontario Hospital Association and Ontario Health that ONA members may be approached to voluntarily relocate and work in hospitals that are overwhelmed by admitted COVID-19 patients. Employers may be reaching out over the coming days, where they are able to facilitate to release some staff temporarily to assist. If you are willing, you would be seconded to another hospital either within commuting distance or perhaps through temporary relocation with expenses paid. You would be advised in advance of your work location and your collective agreement will apply for all purposes. Contact your Bargaining Unit President if you have any questions.

ONA is here for you, our members

Since the pandemic began, ONA has brought your voice to the government and offered solutions to the many problems Ontario has faced and is facing in its third wave. We have been vocal at government meetings, during briefings, in the media and so much more.

We had to force employers who were not following Directive #5 to court so our members are able to conduct a point-of-care risk assessment to assist with protection from COVID-19. We won.

The Ford government passed Bill 124, the wage suppression legislation that caps public sector workers’ wages to one per cent each year for three years. ONA has launched a Charter challenge that will take years for a decision by the court.

ONA has filed grievances on behalf of members when employers are not following the specific provisions of Emergency Orders. While employers have the general power from a redeployment perspective to respond to COVID-19, they must do so in a manner consistent with the Occupational Health and Safety Act, our health and safety provisions of the collective agreement including infection control, and the precautionary principle.

In May, we head to the courts again to challenge the Chief Medical Officer of Health to amend all Directives to include mandatory protection for airborne transmission.

As I mentioned earlier, we will continue to push for the second dose of vaccine to be prioritized for all health-care workers who are front-facing.

ONA is speaking out at every opportunity. We are working with you, your leaders and ONA staff to protect your rights in these very challenging circumstances. We are in a very tenuous time, and we are all exhausted and fed up with the incomplete approach of the government.

And ONA is here, and we will continue to respond as the government takes further actions.

Take care and be well,

Vicki McKenna, RN
President

Ontario Nurses’ Association · 85 Grenville St, Toronto, ON M5S 3A2, Canada
You can also keep up with Ontario Nurses’ Association on Twitter or Facebook.

Ontario Nurses' Association
Dear ONA member,

This Wednesday, April 28 is the Day of Mourning, a day when ONA and other organizations acknowledge and remember workers who have been killed, injured, or made ill at work.

We honour ONA members Brian Beattie, who died due to COVID-19; a member who passed away in a work-related car accident; Nelia Laroza and Tecla Lin who died after contracting SARS; and Lori Dupont, who was murdered while working at a Windsor hospital. The list of members who have passed away due to work-related issues sadly continues to grow. ONA will continue to advocate for members’ health and safety at the government, employer and Bargaining Unit levels. Workplace injuries, deaths and illnesses are preventable.

The Day of Mourning is all the more significant given the third wave of COVID-19. Our members are continuing to be stretched and are facing many health and safety issues, including lack of and blocked access to proper PPE and N95 respirators, unsafe workloads, workplace violence and so much more.

I hope you are able to take a bit of time in the next week to honour all workers. There are several online events taking place, so please visit this link to see the list. As well, the Canadian Labour Congress is seeking stories from front-line workers who are risking their lives at work. Click here to learn more and share your story for the Day of Mourning.

ONA’s posters and social media shareables are on this page, so please download the items and share them on social media.

Stay safe and be well,

Vicki

 

Register for an Ask A Specialist webinar

Webinar registration is open for sessions of “Ask a Specialist: Navigating the Professional Responsibility Workload Report Process.”

Join a one-hour webinar to be guided through the steps and to better understand the direct connections between your Standards of Practice and filing a Professional Responsibility Workload Report Form (PRWRF).

Here are the upcoming webinars. Please click on the applicable link to register.

Hospital members: PRWRF – Tips and Tricks

Specifically designed for hospital-sector members, our specialists will discuss helpful tips and answer questions you may have related to bringing the issues forward using the PRWRFs, identifying organizational policies that are at risk when workload issues occur, discussing the issues with management, and so much more.

Tuesday, May 4, 11 a.m.:

https://ona.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_KKLmBobWSdaC_umbiFgU3w

All – Professional Responsibility and College of Nurses of Ontario (CNO) Standards of Practice

In this new webinar specially designed for nurses, our specialists will provide a brief overview of nurses’ professional responsibilities as per CNO’s Practice Standards and Guidelines, discuss commonly impacted Practice Standards and Guidelines when workload issues arise and answer questions you may have about connecting workload issues to Practice Standards when completing PRWRFs.

Tuesday May 4, 4 p.m.:

https://ona.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_H28ysazBQqS0f9AN3BOFFg

All – Identifying Standards of Practice in PRWRFs

In this webinar, our specialists will guide you through completing PRWRFs and answer questions you may have including: What is a professional practice issue? How to connect “workload issues” to your standards of practice, and more.

Tuesday May 4, 7:30 p.m.:

https://ona.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_PhqBGhvUQ3GmcdMx259aOg

Long-term Care (LTC) members: PRWRF – Tips and Tricks

In this webinar, specifically designed for the LTC sector, our specialists will provide you with answers to questions you may have related to bringing issues forward using the PRWRFs, identifying Long-Term Care Homes Act (LTCHA) accountabilities that are at risk when workload issues occur, discussing issues with management, and more.

Thursday May 13, 11 a.m.:

https://ona.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN__9ClNkGTRSKzqRlRMDTdSw

All – Your Rights and Professional Responsibilities with Redeployment & Reassignment

In this new webinar, our specialists will explore your accountabilities when being redeployed or reassigned, what to do when working with the reassigned worker, considerations for your practice and patients and your rights and responsibilities – using the PRWRF to advocate for change and to protect your College Standards of Practice.

Thursday May 13, 4 p.m.:

https://ona.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_d9WHDEPBQqCE6tCOP5VKjA

Multi-sector (LHIN, Public Health, Clinic and Industry, and Home Care): PRWRF – Tips and Tricks

Learn helpful tips and get answers to your questions related to bringing the issues forward using the form, identifying organizational policies that are at risk when workload issues occur, and discussing the issues with management.

Thursday May 13, 7:30 p.m.:

https://ona.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_HArp2zgKRSeI-Ed6MrXekA

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

If you have any questions, please email our Professional Practice Team at registerprofpractice@ona.org.

Thank you.

Ontario Nurses’ Association · 85 Grenville St, Toronto, ON M5S 3A2, Canada
You can also keep up with Ontario Nurses’ Association on Twitter or Facebook.

Posted April 23, 2021

cno logo

IMPORTANT UPDATE: New provincial orders – change to scope of practice in hospitals

Dear nurses:

A new order under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act, 1990 (EMCPA) authorizes health care professionals, including nurses, to provide patient care services outside their regular scope of practice and enables hospitals to employ, contract, appoint or otherwise engage regulated health professionals from out of province. You can read the new regulation here: Ontario Regulation 305/21 Regulated Health Professionals, made under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act, 1990.

Under this new order, health professionals from Ontario or out of province, including nurses, are authorized to engage outside of their regular scope of practice provided that doing so is necessary in order for the health care professional to respond to, prevent, or alleviate the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak. The services provided must also be consistent with the duties that have been assigned or the privileges that have been granted by the hospital.

This new order applies only to nurses working in hospitals whether registered with CNO in the general, extended, non-practising, temporary, special assignment or Emergency Assignment class. While this order allows nurses to work outside of scope, nurses are still required to work within their knowledge, skill and judgment. The order does not permit nurses to practice outside of scope while they are working outside a hospital.

Nurses authorized to practice in other Canadian jurisdictions may be employed by Ontario hospitals under this new order. These nurses do not have to register with CNO and are not permitted to work in settings outside a hospital.

The Ministry of Health made CNO aware of these changes yesterday. We will continue to monitor the situation and update our website (www.CNO.org) with any new information that becomes available.

You are encouraged to speak with your employer to further understand any implications to your practice.

Earlier this week, I expressed my appreciation to Ontario’s nurses. Thank you for the commitment you have demonstrated to do your very best to keep patients safe in these challenging times.


Anne Coghlan, RN, MScN
Executive Director and CEO


Ontario Nurses' Association
Dear ONA member,

The high number of COVID-19 patients is maximizing hospital capacity and our members’ ability to care for their patients, residents and clients. Patients are being moved from hot spots to areas where hospitals have ICU and inpatient capacity.

You are all working so very hard during this stressful pandemic, and we know that this wave is unlike the prior waves. Know that ONA continues to advocate for you. We are working with the government, the regulatory colleges, and the Ontario Hospital Association (OHA) to find solutions to assist you through this crisis.

As you are aware, the province has been taking steps to maximize capacity in the health-care system.

1. They are ramping down elective surgeries. To this end, the government updatedDirective #2 earlier this week.

2. Hospitals are transferring patients to other health-care environments where the most appropriate care can be provided, e.g., long-term care, other hospitals, or home.

3. Government is also issuing additional Emergency Orders to redeploy health-care workers, such as those working at the Home and Community Care Support Services (HCCSS) and the student extern program, to sites experiencing significant capacity pressures.

4. Hospitals are recruiting additional health-care workers, e.g., the College of Nurses has implemented an Emergency Assignment Class.

All of these measures will support front-line health-care workers and provide staffing flexibility to hospitals, while ensuring high-quality patient care. This includes alternate team-based models of care.

The government is taking additional steps to address the crisis and urgent pressures to support health-care workers and hospitals. Two new Emergency Orders have been issued. Click here to read the government’s memo.

1. A new order enables regulated health professionals, either from Ontario or out-of-province, to be authorized to engage in any aspect of the practice of any health profession, provided that it is necessary in response to the pandemic, is consistent with the duties that are assigned or the privileges that are granted by the hospital, and the professional acts in a manner that is consistent with any measures taken by a hospital as part of its efforts to respond to prevent and alleviate the outbreak of COVID-19.

Hospitals are responsible for ensuring that staff members are only assigned tasks or asked to deliver services that they are reasonably qualified to provide. Hospitals should conduct a skill and experience inventory and consult with staff to satisfy themselves what position(s) each member is reasonably qualified to perform. Click here to read an ONA communication from December, 2020 regarding redeployment and reassignment.

The government assures ONA that most hospitals will be working in team-based environments and redeployed health-care professionals will be working under the direction of an employee of the department with the skill set of that department. Nurses and other health-care professionals have many skills that are transferable to certain environments. There are opportunities to work within those skills and be part of the health-care teams with appropriate supports that will get us through this crisis together.

All orders must comply with the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act(EMCPA).

This means two things:

i) The orders can authorize but cannot require a person to be redeployed and render services; and

ii) The person must be reasonably qualified to perform the services or duties they are assigned.

Health-care professionals have the right to refuse work if they are not reasonably qualified or competent to provide the task or service requested. The registered nurse (RN) should ensure that there is an appropriate transfer of care in accordance with the professional standard on refusing or discontinuing nursing services.

In short, nurses must ensure they are reasonably qualified to perform the redeployed position and duties to protect themselves against the risk of liability. Once this condition is met, then the authorization under the order to engage in any aspect of the practice of any health profession applies, despite any statute or professional standard that governs regulated health-care professionals.

As we understand the planning at this time, health-care professionals from other provinces that may be seconded to Ontario (like the HCCSS employees are redeployed to hospitals) will remain employees of their employer, who will be continuing their salaries and benefits.

Where employees are redeployed to other geographical areas, there is money approved to pay for accommodations, transportation, and meals.

2. An additional order authorizes Independent Health Facilities (IHFs) to redeploy staff to hospitals on a voluntary basis to help with capacity needs relative to the third wave of COVID-19. We understand that some IHFs will be closing temporarily. We encourage our members to redeploy to hospitals and assist in this crisis.

Both government and ONA are requesting that all health regulatory colleges provide support to their registrants who are impacted by these orders. ONA has written to the College of Nurses of Ontario and other regulatory colleges for ONA health-care professional members, advising of their need to understand the realities of the current environment where our members are providing care. It is not providing care in normal circumstances. The government has requested that hospitals only rely on staff redeployment as provided in the order when necessary.

I encourage you to work together. These are extraordinary times and acts of kindness and understanding while working together will get us through this.

Be safe and be well,

Vicki McKenna, RN
President

Ontario Nurses’ Association · 85 Grenville St, Toronto, ON M5S 3A2, Canada
You can also keep up with Ontario Nurses’ Association on Twitter or Facebook.


Posted April 21, 2021

cno logo

A message to Ontario’s nurses

I am writing this message as nurses are again at the forefront of responding to a crisis in our health care system. I know that for many of you, these challenges bring a high degree of uncertainty and stress as you experience change in ways you may never have experienced before.

You may be concerned about maintaining standards of practice under the current and evolving conditions, particularly if you are being asked to assist in areas where you do not normally work. Our statement on the standard of carehas been updated and I remind you that CNO always considers the context in which you must provide care when we are assessing concerns that we may receive.

During these challenging times, we are working hard to get you the support you need. Registration of nurses is our top priority as we work to register as many nurses as possible to support patient care needs during this pandemic. Our website has the latest information on registration and how to contact our Practice Quality team for consultation and additional resources to support your safe practice.

I extend my heartfelt appreciation for the commitment and dedication of Ontario’s nurses who continue to work tirelessly to keep patients safe.

Thank you for your skill, compassion and caring.

Stay safe and stay well.

Anne Coghlan, RN, MScN
Executive Director and CEO


Posted April 16, 2021

logo

Dear HOOPP member,

HOOPP is proud to be the pension plan provider for Ontario’s healthcare workers. Throughout the pandemic, you have been a source of constant inspiration for us. In recognition of the incredibly challenging environment, and supported by the strong performance of our Plan, I am pleased to inform you that HOOPP’s Board of Trustees has approved an increase in your pension benefits.

Effective Apr. 1, 2021, members who were active in the Plan as of that date, will receive an increase in their lifetime pension for any contributory service in 2018, 2019 and/or 2020. Simply put, that means eligible members, like you, will now receive a larger monthly pension benefit once you retire. Read more about the details of the increase.

We felt this was an important benefit to offer our active members, especially considering the stress and hardship caused by the current environment. HOOPP was able to provide the increase as a result of our strong Plan performance over time. We entered 2020 in a very solid position and, despite volatile markets and difficult economic conditions, the Plan remains strong and fully funded. Our investment return for the year was 11.42% and our funded ratio was 119%. Our assets were $104 billion at year end, which was a record high. Also, in early 2021, we reached a new milestone of 400,000 total members. For more information on our results, you can view our 2020 Highlights on hoopp.com/2020.

HOOPP is resilient and has successfully navigated many economic downturns. We have a long history of supporting our members and we will continue to do that by investing with a long-term view and managing the Plan in our members’ best interest.

We offer our most heartfelt thanks to our members as they care for us through this pandemic.

Sincerely,

Jeff Wendling

President & Chief Executive Officer / Chief Investment Officer

HOOPP

1 York Street Suite 1900

Toronto ON M5J 0B6

1-877-43-HOOPP (46677)


Posted April 10, 2021

Ontario Nurses' Association
Dear ONA member,

As promised, we are here to keep you informed of the most up-to-date developments that impact you, our members.

Please join ONA First Vice-President Cathryn Hoy, CEO Beverly Mathers and me for Telephone Town Halls/Facebook Live on Thursday, April 15 for the latest on redeployment, COVID-19 stay-at-home orders, vaccine rollouts, implications of the third wave, changes to Directives, PPE and an update on ONA’s judicial review application.

For members in Regions 3 and 4, the Telephone Town Hall will take place from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. For members in Regions 1, 2 and 5, it will be held from 7:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. When you receive the telephone call, please stay on the line and you will be connected. If you are not able to answer the phone, you will receive a voice message with the phone number that you can call to join the town hall.

The town halls will be livestreamed on Facebook. Join us at www.facebook.com/ontarionurses to listen to the conversation, ask questions and participate online.

Please make sure that ONA has your most up-to-date contact information so we can call you. Complete this online form with your details.

We want to know what you are hearing on the ground and, in turn, answer your questions. Join us on April 15 by telephone or online to participate and to engage in the work of our union. We look forward to hearing from you.

It is time to focus on yourself

This past year has been challenging for everyone. As nurses and health-care professionals, you have all been pushed to your limits.

That is why I encourage you to set aside a bit of time to focus on yourself.

I am pleased to announce that – together with the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions (CFNU) – we have launched a new mental health program for nurses and health-care professionals called MindWell for Health-care Workers.

It is a program that was designed through consultations with CFNU mental health experts and nurse leaders from across the country. We are all very excited about the program, which will offer our members training and tools to better manage stress and difficult situations. Through live, virtual classes, it fosters an interactive environment tailored to health-care workers to feel supported and connected, coupled with self-paced learning of about 10 minutes each week.

Please visit the website to find out more and to register. The program starts on April 12 and space is limited, so if you are under stress and need help, please register as soon as you are able.

Register now for the Ask A Specialist webinars

Webinar registration is open for sessions of “Ask a Specialist: Navigating the Professional Responsibility Workload Report Process.”

Join a one-hour webinar to be guided through the steps and to better understand the direct connections between your Standards of Practice and filing a Professional Responsibility Workload Report Form (PRWRF).

Here are the upcoming webinars for next week. Please click on the applicable link to register.

All – Identifying Standards of Practice in PRWRFs

In this webinar, our specialists will guide you through completing PRWRFs and answer questions you may have including: What is a professional practice issue, how to connect “workload issues” to your standards of practice, and more.

Thursday, April 22, 11 a.m.

https://ona.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_vu-gHRiYTBaWA7SBQWQtIg

Hospital members: PRWRF – Tips

Specifically designed for hospital-sector members, our specialists will discuss helpful tips and answer questions you may have related to bringing the issues forward using the PRWRFs, identifying organizational policies that are at risk when workload issues occur, discussing the issues with management, and so much more.

Thursday, April 22, 4 p.m.

https://ona.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN__Dr5JFzbRbaCaCmrT3r_3A

All – Your Rights and Professional Responsibilities with Redeployment and Reassignment

In this new webinar, our specialists will explore your accountabilities when being redeployed or reassigned, what to do when working with the reassigned worker, considerations for your practice and patients and your rights and responsibilities – using the PRWRF to advocate for change and to protect your College of Standards of Practice.

Thursday, April 22, 7:30 p.m.

https://ona.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_-z4D3uC0T8agMQ98DOtMZQ

Multi-sector (LHIN, Public Health, Clinic and Industry, and Home Care): PRWRF – Tips

Learn helpful tips and get answers to your questions related to bringing the issues forward using the form, identifying organizational policies that are at risk when workload issues occur, and discussing the issues with management.

Tuesday, April 27, 11 a.m.

https://ona.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_3vTR3GkpQ9i2pGTZnDR8Mg

Long-term Care (LTC) members: PRWRF – Tips

In this webinar, specifically designed for the LTC sector, our specialists will provide you with answers to questions you may have related to bringing issues forward using the PRWRFs, identifying Long-Term Care Homes Act (LTCHA) accountabilities that are at risk when workload issues occur, discussing issues with management, and more.

Tuesday, April 27, 4 p.m.

https://ona.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_eRYAUHyQSHKjqMnbEdmToQ

All – Professional Responsibility and College of Nurses of Ontario (CNO) Standards of Practice

In this new webinar specially designed for nurses, our specialists will provide a brief overview of nurses’ professional responsibilities as per CNO’s Practice Standards and Guidelines, discuss commonly impacted Practice Standards and Guidelines when workload issues arise and answer questions you may have about connecting workload issues to Practice Standards when completing PRWRFs.

Tuesday, April 27, 7:30 p.m.

https://ona.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_-v4uco28So27TJXZmJFoMg

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

If you have any questions, please email our Professional Practice Team at registerprofpractice@ona.org.

Thank you.

Stay safe and be well,

Vicki McKenna, RN
President

Ontario Nurses’ Association · 85 Grenville St, Toronto, ON M5S 3A2, Canada
You can also keep up with Ontario Nurses’ Association on Twitter or Facebook.


Posted April 9, 2021

Ontario Nurses' Association
Dear ONA member,

Today, the Ontario government advised ONA that it is enacting a new emergency order to permit Ontario Health (OH) and the Home and Care Community Support Services (HCCSS, formerly the Local Health Integration Networks [LHINs]), to redeploy staff to hospitals to address capacity and staffing pressures during the third wave of COVID-19.

As a result of the order, Care Coordinators can now be redeployed to hospitals. This order has not yet been enacted or issued; it is expected later today.

The Order’s Intention

The order is intended to support hospitals’ strained ability to treat acute care needs and address the human resources needs. An Ontario Health memo was sent to hospitals last evening to ramp down services in all but the northern area of the province. It is expected this will be extended to the north as well in the near future.

The second part of the emergency order will permit HCCSS staff to be redeployed to other HCCSS agencies. This redeployment would be between OH and HCCSS, and between each of the 14 HCCSS sites, as needed, to allow skilled staff to volunteer or be redeployed to acute-care teams within the hospitals and to backfill for those who are redeployed. This could mean assignment to another HCCSS as backfill.

The order will be in effect for 14 days and may be extended for subsequent 14-day periods.

The emergency orders will be similar to prior orders and will mandate the following:

  • The employer should only rely on this regulation when reasonably necessary to respond to, prevent and alleviate COVID-19.
  • Employees continue to be the employee of the sending organization and have all the rights afforded under that Collective Agreement, including premiums, WSIB and liability coverage. The employer has all the obligations and responsibility for that employee, including measures to ensure the health and safety of employees such as those under the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
  • The employer will conduct any skills and experience inventories of staff to identify possible alternative roles in hospitals and be provided with appropriate education and training to achieve the purposes of the redeployment plan.

Government has indicated that staff should not be put in a precarious situation where skills and training are not adequate to fulfill a particular role. For example, if a registered nurse has not been in a clinical role, then the employer should only consider redeployment to testing sites or other comparable areas. Hospitals should also be developing a team-based model for redeployed staff.

Principles should apply for redeployment

ONA and other trade unions have indicated that the following principles should apply for redeployment:

  • Any redeployment should rely on staff volunteers first.
  • The Bargaining Unit President and the Labour Relations Officer should receive notice of which employers employees are going into and where our members are deployed.
  • Redeployment should be to a hospital close to the sending or home employer as possible.
  • Infection prevention and control and health and safety measures should be implemented prior to redeployment of staff, including ensuring access to and supply of proper personal protective equipment, including N95 respirators, based on your point of care risk assessment and clinical assessment. ONA is recommending that staff request an N95 respirator whenever there is a risk of exposure to COVID-19, including on units where patients with suspect or confirmed COVID-19 are located.
  • Pay attention to individual needs, e.g., schedules, child and elder care, any work accommodation.
  • There should be clear roles and responsibilities and training/orientation at the receiving organization.
  • There should be clear lines of communication to managers at both sites.
  • Upon completion of the redeployment, measures should be put in place to ensure a safe return to work and any required period of self-isolation should be fully paid by the employer.

ONA also urged government to prioritize hospital and redeployed staff for vaccination.

Amendments to Directives #3 and #5

The Ontario Government recently amended Directives #3 and #5. Notably, the government did not take this opportunity to amend the Directives to recognize aerosol or pre-symptomatic transmission and to mandate the use of N95 respirators in situations where our members are at risk of exposure to COVID-19.

ONA has consistently taken this position with government including in its recent judicial review application of the Chief Medical Officer of Health decision to fail to recognize these modes of transmission.

The amendments to Directive #3 however, include changing the definition of an outbreak. Prior to the change implemented on April 7, 2021, “outbreak” was defined in Directive #3 as follows:

“LTCHs [long-term care homes] must consider a single, laboratory confirmed case of COVID-19 in a resident or staff member as a confirmed respiratory outbreak in the LTCH.”

Directive #3 provides a new definition of outbreak in long-term care homes and retirement homes, which is now two or more lab-confirmed COVID-19 cases in residents and/or staff (or other visitors) in a home with an epidemiological link within a 14-day period where at least one case could have reasonably acquired their infection in the home. Examples of reasonably having acquired an infection in a home include:

  • No obvious source of infection outside of the long-term care home/retirement home setting; OR
  • Known exposure in the long-term care home/retirement home setting.

Despite this change to the definition of outbreak in Directive #3, Directive #5 has been revised to clarify that the single case definition of an outbreak is maintained for access to personal protective equipment for a non-regulated health-care worker.

Where there is one-laboratory confirmed case of COVID-19 in a staff member or resident, health care workers can make an independent assessment as to whether they require an N95 respirator:

For public hospitals in COVID-19 outbreak, as declared by the local Medical Officer of Health, and for long-term care homes with one laboratory-confirmed case of COVID-19 in a staff member or a resident, if a health-care worker comes in contact with a suspected, probable or confirmed case of COVID-19 in a patient or resident where a two-metre distance cannot be assured, the health-care worker can determine if a fit-tested N95 respirator or approved equivalent or better protection is needed and must receive this additional precaution.

The above-noted definition of outbreak in Directive #5 is different than the definition of outbreak in Directive #3.

We will continue to update you as more information becomes available. Please contact your Bargaining Unit President if you have further questions.

Be safe and be well,

Vicki McKenna, RN
President

Ontario Nurses’ Association · 85 Grenville St, Toronto, ON M5S 3A2, Canada
You can also keep up with Ontario Nurses’ Association on Twitter or Facebook.

Posted April 8, 2021

From: Brenda Pugh
Sent: Thursday, April 08, 2021 11:11 AM
To: ONA
Subject: FW: This Week @ ONA: new mental health support program launches; read ONA govt submission; Nursing Week; phone zap and more

Good morning,

Please see the announcement from our provincial president, regarding Mental health support for nursing, to help with the ongoing stress, please see below

Hello,

With COVID-19’s third wave firmly here in Ontario, we continue to be burdened with stressful situations that impact our mental health.

I’m pleased to announce that – together with the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions (CFNU) – we have launched a new mental health program for nurses and health-care professionals called Mindwell for Health-care Workers. It is a four-week program that was designed through consultations with CFNU mental health experts and nurse leaders from across the country. We are all very excited about the program, which will offer you, our members, training and tools to better manage stress and difficult situations.

This program is tailored to health-care workers. Please visit the website to find out more and to register. The program starts on April 12 and space is limited, so if you are under stress and you may need help, please register as soon as possible. Please also share this information with your members.

In solidarity,

Vicki McKenna, RN


Posted April 1, 2021

Ontario Nurses' Association
Dear ONA member,

Next Wednesday, April 7 is Equal Pay Day.

In the year 2021, women still continue to earn, on average, about 30 per cent less salary than men. That gap increases if women are disabled, racialized, Indigenous or immigrants.

Equal Pay Day – which was established in Ontario in 2014 – illustrates how long a woman would have to work into the next year to earn the same salary as a man would in the previous year.

ONA has been at the forefront of the fight for equal pay for work of equal value for more than 30 years. Since the inception of Ontario’s Pay Equity Act in 1987, ONA has fought to achieve pay equity for its members. It is a fundamental human right that is protected under the Act, as well as through numerous international human rights laws that Canada has ratified.

Last month, ONA won a decision by the Ontario Court of Appeal, which ruled that a previous Pay Equity Hearings Tribunal decision regarding continuing and maintaining pay equity for women working in participating nursing homes is unreasonable. The court found that the Pay Equity Act is clearly written to ensure ongoing access to male comparators through the proxy method to not just achieve pay equity, but to maintain it.

We had been urging the Ford government and for-profit nursing homes to end their 15-year legal battle against female-dominated health-care professionals, especially during a time when a global pandemic has taken such a hard toll on these care providers. Unfortunately, we fully expect this government to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court of Canada. Rest assured, ONA will be ready.

ONA is also doing work in the hospital sector by continuing to negotiate a centralized pay equity plan, which will apply to all participating hospitals once finalized.

Pay Equity Day is a day that we all need to come together and demand that the gap be closed. Check out our social media feeds on April 7 for additional information and actions on this important day.

In solidarity,

Vicki McKenna, RN
President

 

Register for new Ask A Specialist Webinars

Webinar registration is open for sessions of “Ask a Specialist: Navigating the Professional Responsibility Workload Report Process.”

Join a one-hour webinar where you will be guided through the steps and to better understand the direct connections between your Standards of Practice and filing a Professional Responsibility Workload Report Form (PRWRF).

Below are the upcoming webinars; Please click on the applicable link to register.

All – Your Rights and Professional Responsibilities with Redeployment  and Reassignment

In this new webinar, our specialists will explore your accountabilities when being redeployed or reassigned, what to do when working with a reassigned worker, considerations for your practice and patients, and your rights and responsibilities using the PRWRF to advocate for change and to protect your College Standards of Practice.

Thursday April 8, 11 a.m.

https://ona.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_8735ddHBRmKaxoZZYLUaSg

All – Professional Responsibility and College of Nurses of Ontario (CNO) Standards of Practice

In this new webinar specially designed for nurses, our specialists will provide a brief overview of nurses’ professional responsibilities as per CNO’s Practice Standards and Guidelines, discuss commonly impacted Practice Standards and Guidelines when workload issues arise, and answer questions you may have about connecting workload issues to Practice Standards when completing PRWRFs.

Thursday April 8, 4 p.m.:

https://ona.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_V67gmX8hReu3U-d2xiMIqg

Multi-sector (LHIN, Public Health, Clinic and Industry, and Home Care): PRWRF – Tips and Tricks

Learn helpful tips and get answers to your questions related to bringing the issues forward using the form, identifying organizational policies that are at risk when workload issues occur, and discussing the issues with management.

Thursday, April 8, 7:30 p.m.:

https://ona.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_uVPVIuXlSzWmuM3KLnGneg

Long-term Care (LTC) members: PRWRF – Tips and Tricks

In this webinar, specifically designed for the LTC sector, our specialists will provide you with answers to questions you may have related to bringing issues forward using the PRWRFs, identifying Long-Term Care Homes Act (LTCHA) accountabilities that are at risk when workload issues occur, discussing issues with management, and more.

Tuesday, April 13, 11 a.m.:

https://ona.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_96ldEoiJQlmPCYxHnuXAsA

All – Identifying Standards of Practice in PRWRFs

In this webinar, our specialists will guide you through completing PRWRFs and answer questions you may have including: What is a professional practice issue? How to connect “workload issues” to your standards of practice, and more.

Tuesday April 13, 4 p.m.:

https://ona.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN__XEv2k6CRyWTYJmM10YmXw

Hospital members: PRWRF – Tips and Tricks

Specifically designed for hospital-sector members, our specialists will discuss helpful tips and answer questions you may have related to bringing the issues forward using the PRWRFs, identifying organizational policies that are at risk when workload issues occur, discussing the issues with management, and so much more.

Tuesday, April 13, 7:30 pm:

https://ona.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_JDDW7a8PRTqycxG2YgyNWg

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

If you have any questions, please email our Professional Practice Team at registerprofpractice@ona.org.

Thank you.