Labour Day 2021 - ONA 8

Local 08 - Ontario Nurses Association

Windsor/Essex County

Ontario Nurses' Association (ONA) represents over 60,000 nurses and allied healthcare workers in Ontario. Local 8 represents approximately 2,000 active members in 20 workplaces in Windsor/Essex County. We represent members in the hospitals, many long-term care/homes for the aged, industry, clinics, and the health unit.

The majority of our members are considered essential services and do not have the right to strike. The extreme actions of the current government in legislating Bill 124 have also restricted the bargaining rights of the majority of our members.

Our members in industry, clinics, and the health unit do have the right to strike. The WECHU nurses have gone on strike several times in the past and actually have been out the longest of any DNA striking group twice in recent history. The support of the labour community has always been generous and greatly welcomed.

The Covid pandemic has been a time of uncertainty, provoking anxiety, anger, fear, and uncertainty and our members have faced this head-on with dignity, respect, and perseverance. It has not been easy and we do not even have a starting number yet on the numbers who will be affected long term by the impact of providing this type of nursing care under extreme working conditions with PPE and little family support for the patients. Nurses all over the province have left the profession, the vacancy rates have directly affected patient care, and working short-staffed is leading to burnout and employment distress.

Local 8 is very proud of the four videos that were created and produced locally by Hellos Films, under the direction of Jendo Shabo. The last in the series of four, which all illustrate the everyday exposures to workplace violence and trauma in healthcare, is titled "No Room To Grieve" and is a focus on PTSO. It received several honorable mentions and awards in short film competitions. These videos can be viewed on YouTube. The concept and themes were the work of local Coordinator Sue Sommerdyk, with members actually playing parts in the videos alongside actors from the production company.

This year ONA became officially an affiliate of the Windsor & District labour Council. ONA has proudly represented membership on picket lines, at rallies and demonstrations locally and provincial/y.

Look out for nurses taking the activist role further in next year's provincial election ... we have been hogtied by Bills 196, 124, and 254 and a quandary of medical directives that were often confusing and difficult to navigate.

Privatization of the long-term care sector and the forgiveness expressed by the Ford government to these profit-mongering executives who got big raises while hiding PPE from staff and not providing basic essentials of daily care to the residents has to be stopped.

Federally, we will continue to push for a national pharmacare plan and continued relief financially for those impacted by Covid in the workplaces.

Jo-Dee Brown, local Political Action Lead