ONA Members To Mark Nursing Week Under A Cloud

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Alanna Cohen, a nurse at the Couchicing COVID-19 Assessment Centre shows the handheld device which digitizes lab requisitions.

The Ontario Nurses’ Association’s (ONA) 68,000 members will mark the start of Nursing Week 2021 today. Normally a time of celebration, this year, Nursing Week falls as nurses continue to fight the pandemic under a cloud of anger and frustration after a series of moves by the Ford government that has left them feeling undervalued and disrespected.

“Nursing Week is a time for us to celebrate our profession and our role in providing high-quality care to those in every sector of health-care across this province,” says ONA President Vicki McKenna, RN. “Certainly, the COVID-19 pandemic has starkly shown the value that nurses bring to their profession, the vital role nurses play, the range of skills and specialties within the nursing profession, and the incredible courage and dedication of nurses. The public and the media have recognized this; unfortunately, the government has not. Our nurses have been dealt a series of blows by this government that have prevented them from negotiating a respectful wage increase, removed their workplace protections, and seen them left behind as this government has selectively recognized some, not all, health-care workers for their extraordinary sacrifices.”

McKenna says that nursing is an incredibly rewarding profession with a large range of opportunities for specialization and many sectors from public health, long-term care, hospitals, clinics, home and community care and industry. This is why ONA is encouraging nurses to tell their stories via social media during Nursing Week this year. Using the hashtag #StandInMyShoes, nurses are invited to share why they became nurses and what the profession means to them. “It is important for nurses to have a voice, to share their experiences and tell their stories,” says McKenna. “It’s an opportunity to learn about their reality.”

“The dedication, skills and sacrifices nurses have made throughout the pandemic, will be celebrated,” she says. “ONA’s Nursing Week theme is ‘Still Standing. Still Proud. Still Strong.’ Our nurses are still on the front lines, but COVID-19 and this government has taken a toll. And we cannot forget that last year on International Nurses Day, ONA member Brian Beattie, RN, died of COVID-19 after being infected while working in a long-term care facility. Our members have put their lives on the line during the pandemic, and we will not rest until this government acknowledges – with more than words – the pivotal role nurses play. Government must repeal its wage-suppression legislation, Bill 124, and step up and recognize those who have sacrificed so much.”

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.

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