Nurses rallying in Oshawa and province-wide for new contract and to protest new legislation

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Published February 22, 2023 at 3:46 pm

Thousands of nurses, health-care professionals and their allies will be picketing hospitals and Conservative MPP’s offices Thursday to seek support in their quest for a better contract from the Ontario Hospital Association.

The picket lines are also to protest impending provincial legislation nurses are calling “one more example of the Ford government’s ideological determination to dismantle publicly delivered health care.”

The ‘All-out picket for Better Staffing, Better Wages, Better Hospital Care’ will take place at dozens of locations around Ontario, including Alexandra Park in Oshawa, which is just outside of Lakeridge Health Oshawa.

The picket lines in Oshawa will be from 10 a.m. to noon.

The protests “will show our unified voice and commitment” to achieving a fair deal for Ontario’s nurses, the ONA said in a statement, adding that nurses are picketing in support of a contract that will improve retention in the “critically understaffed” health care sector and lead to better patient care.

The Ontario Nurses’ Association, the largest provincial nurses’ union in Canada, is in talks with the Ontario Hospital Association, seeking a better contract for its 60,000 members following three years of “wage suppression” under Bill 124, recently ruled unconstitutional by the Ontario courts.

Nurses are also protesting against the introduction of the “creatively named” Your Health Act – currently tabled in the Legislature – that will allow private surgical clinics to perform an “unlimited number” of publicly funded surgical procedures.

“The bill provides no assurances that the private clinics will be regulated and safe for patients, that they will not upsell patients on unnecessary services, or that the clinics will not poach nursing staff from our public hospitals,” a statement from the ONA read.

“Ontarians cannot trust this government to properly regulate private clinics. The Ford government took no action to address the horrific record of for-profit nursing homes during the pandemic. It also failed to properly staff nursing homes to ensure resident safety.”

The ONA is also asking Ontario residents to “speak up” on the legislation, claiming there is a “mountain of evidence” that it also will exacerbate the nursing shortage currently plaguing Ontario hospitals.

The Ontario government, however, says its new draft legislation comes with “guardrails” to protect patients and the public health care system, such as prohibitions on upselling patients on extra services not covered by health plans and charging extra for faster service.

The legislation is Ford’s answer to the surgical backlog in Ontario that now affects more than 200,000 patients.

Thursday’s protests by the nurses is the second in a series of escalating actions across Ontario planned by nurses and health-care professionals.

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