TORONTO, Sept. 7, 2016 /CNW/ - This morning, an arbitrator released the award for Ontario's approximately 50,000 registered nurses (RNs) working in the hospital sector. The award sets the wages, benefits and working conditions for RNs working in public general hospitals who are members of the Ontario Nurses' Association (ONA).
"ONA is deeply discouraged that our highly educated, highly skilled RNs have been given a general wage increase of 1.4 per cent in each year of the contract, retroactive to April 1, 2016," said ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud. "Other professionals who work in male-dominated areas – such as police, firefighters and physicians – continue to receive wage increases that widen the gender equity gap. This is completely unacceptable. ONA will continue to be committed to ongoing pay equity negotiations."
Haslam-Stroud says, "The new contract covers the two-year period expiring on March 31, 2018. "The Ontario Hospital Association, representing the 137 participating hospitals, had sought a one-year contract, but submitted to a request from the Board of Arbitration for a two-year term."
One of the priority demands of ONA was to improve job security in the wake of ongoing gutting of RN positions. The arbitration award requires employers to provide pertinent staffing information to ONA in order to better inform the parties as they enter into the next round of bargaining. The arbitrator also expressed a concern about the amount of contracting out to agency nurses, and as a result, imposed a new level of penalty relating to such usage.
Improvements for RNs in the arbitration include better vision, hearing aid and dental implant coverage, stronger language intended to combat violence in the workplace and some necessary amendments to the employer's punitive attendance awareness policies. The award also establishes a new minimum start rate for nurse practitioners as the first step towards standardizing rates for this important nursing classification. Beyond a minimal wage offer, hospital employers had offered nothing in any other area, but rather suggested a shopping list of take-aways, forcing ONA to arbitration. ONA will be reporting further award details at a leadership meeting scheduled for September 13.
ONA is the union representing 62,000 registered nurses and allied health professionals, as well as almost 14,000 nursing student affiliates, providing care in hospitals, long-term care facilities, public health, the community, clinics and industry.
SOURCE Ontario Nurses' Association