TORONTO, Sept. 27, 2012 /CNW/ - The Ontario Nurses' Association (ONA), the union representing front-line registered nurses and allied health professionals in the province, vows to protect patient care in the face of the reckless government attack on nurses announced by Finance Minister Duncan on Wednesday.
"The government's voluntary compensation restraint measures have impacted the major collective agreements that ONA negotiated over the past two years. Deficit concerns are not going to be solved on the backs of the nursing profession or by the dismantling of collective bargaining in our province," said ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud, RN. "We have the legal and constitutional right to collectively negotiate our working conditions with our employers. The proposed legislation rips up that democratic right. We cannot and will not stand back and let that happen."
ONA cautions that preserving front-line patient care will also be put at risk if the government proceeds with this counter-productive plan. The evidence is undisputed that our patients' health outcomes are negatively impacted when our quality of worklife deteriorates. When the collective bargaining system breaks down, so does our quality of worklife. This risk is unacceptable to our profession and patently unfair to the patients in our care. Nurses, who are predominantly female, were astounded by the optics of gender bias in this legislation.
"More than 27,000 registered nurses are eligible to retire in the coming years," added Haslam-Stroud. "This legislation will do nothing to either retain those nurses in our system or inspire others to enter the profession, making for even more difficult workloads for the nurses who remain."
Haslam-Stroud also notes that the government-commissioned Drummond report concluded that the arbitration system in Ontario was "not broken," yet the government is going ahead with changes to the arbitration system - changes that attack and destroy the very integrity of the current system.
In addition, government action on incentives to ensure corporations do their part to ease Ontario's financial troubles by creating jobs is a key component of getting back to financial health. If the government is truly committed to protecting public services, then this is where their attention should be focused.
"The government should be fiscally responsible with our tax dollars, but they first need to identify where the true problem lies - and it's certainly not with the nursing profession," Haslam-Stroud said. "We did not cause the deficit. The loss of public revenue is due to corporations and rich individuals not paying and evading taxes, which has caused the shortfall in provincial income."
ONA is the union representing 59,000 registered nurses and allied health professionals as well as more than 13,000 nursing student affiliates providing care in hospitals, long-term care facilities, public health, the community, clinics and industry.
SOURCE: Ontario Nurses' Association
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