TORONTO, May 2, 2014 /CNW/ - Approximately 58,000 registered nurses working in Ontario hospitals – members of the Ontario Nurses' Association (ONA), have received an arbitration decision, resolving a dispute with Ontario hospitals over the nurses' collective agreement.
The two-year award provides a 1.4-per-cent wage increase in each year – barely, if at all – keeping up with the rate of inflation.
"Our registered nurses have already sacrificed wages with a two-year wage freeze in the last contract," said ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud, RN. "Registered nurses had every expectation of moving back to more appropriate compensation that reflects the value of RNs to health care and would have been more in line with increases given to other professional essential service workers and our Canadian nursing counterparts."
Haslam-Stroud says that ONA is extremely disappointed that the award fails to provide any benefit or premium improvements, which have always been important feature of any round of negotiations. She notes that this contract is balancing the provincial budget on the backs of registered nurses.
The arbitration decision did hold one piece of good news for newly graduated registered nurses. "We are pleased to see that the arbitrator rejected all of the Ontario Hospital Association's proposals, including a three-per-cent cut to the start rate for new RN graduates," she said. "This would have resulted in our new RNs considering their options to practice in other jurisdictions, rather than be the lowest-paid RNs in all of English-speaking Canada."
Haslam-Stroud notes the growing body of research proving the value that RN care brings and says that, "clearly, we have yet to reach the point of reflecting the value of RN care, both in cost savings and the decrease in patient death rates, in Ontario's nurses' contracts," she said. "Our patients understand the value of our nurses; their employer does not."
ONA is the union representing 60,000 registered nurses and allied health professionals, as well as more than 14,000 nursing student affiliates providing care in hospitals, long-term care facilities, public health, the community, clinics and industry.
SOURCE: Ontario Nurses' Association
For further information: Ontario Nurses' Association, Sheree Bond, (416) 964-8833 ext.2430, cell: (416) 986-8240, firstname.lastname@example.org; Melanie Levenson, (416) 964-8833, ext. 2369, email@example.com; Visit us at: www.ona.org; Facebook.com/OntarioNurses; Twitter.com/OntarioNurses