TORONTO, May 3, 2021 /CNW/ - The Ontario Nurses' Association (ONA), on behalf of its more than 68,000 front-line registered nurses and health-care professionals, is again demanding the Ford government immediately exempt them from its unconstitutional wage legislation, Bill 124.
"Our incredibly brave and heroic front-line registered nurses and health-care professionals have put their health and lives – and those of their families – on the line to provide care for their patients for more than 13 months, and have been pushed beyond exhaustion," says ONA President Vicki McKenna, RN. "They have witnessed horrors that have left them with post-traumatic stress disorder, have been left inadequately protected from the ravages of COVID-19 by those tasked with protecting them, and thousands of health-care workers have been sickened as a result. To date, at least four nurses have died.
"All the while," she says, "the Ford government has subjected nurses and health-care professionals to legislation that suppresses their wages to no more than a one-per-cent per year increase, less than even inflation, while paying mere lip service to the sacrifices they have made," she says. "ONA has made multiple requests for the exemption of our members from this legislation, which have been denied. We stand alongside ORNGE air ambulance paramedics who have also called for an exemption from this unconstitutional legislation."
McKenna says that the government has provided pandemic pay and COVID-19 salary scales to select health-care workers, including personal support workers and physicians, but has left most others behind. Despite saying nurses are heroes, the Ford government has continued to bully nurses and has eliminated their right to effectively collectively bargain.
Ontario nurses have not had an increase on par with inflation in more than a decade. The pandemic has made clear how vital RNs are to the care our patients require. ONA is calling for Premier Ford to show he believes what he says about nurses. He must recognize the immutable value of nurses and immediately exempt them from Bill 124.
"Ontario has more than 17,000 combined nurse vacancies in every sector," says McKenna. "The province cannot fill these positions without immediate investment in and respect for nurses. Premier Ford must demonstrate that he truly values nurses. His government has exempted other, male-dominated professions from Bill 124. It is past time to do the same for our nurses and health-care professionals."
ONA is the union representing more than 68,000 registered nurses and health-care professionals, as well as 18,000 nursing student affiliates, providing care in hospitals, long-term care, public health, the community, clinics and industry.
SOURCE Ontario Nurses' Association
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