RPNs demand changes to Ontario health system


TORONTO — Unifor representatives and frontline Registered Practical Nurses (RPNs) met with Ontario Minister of Health Christine Elliott on February 7, 2022 to discuss systemic issues and offer concrete solutions to retain and recruit health care workers in Ontario.

“We made it clear to Minister Elliott that the government must take swift action and start to respect, protect, and pay Ontario’s RPNs,” said Katha Fortier, Unifor lead health care negotiator and Assistant to National President. “Nurses have had their collective agreement rights superseded, worked without proper PPE through a pandemic and, frankly, are burnt out. Without immediate measures to improve working conditions and compensation, the health care system is at risk.”

At the meeting, Unifor offered solutions to the Minister on how best to address and implement a fair and standardized wage for RPNs and expand the temporary wage enhancement to any health care workers subjected to the overrides of their collective agreement rights.

“The fact of the matter is Ontario is suffering from an under-funded and over-burdened health care system,” said Allison Lewis, Registered Practical Nurse. “In order to put patients first and save Ontario’s health care system, we need this government to not only listen to frontline nurses but make the necessary changes to improve their working conditions. This starts with an immediate repeal of Bill 124 which unfairly caps their wages.”

The union has launched an online campaign, Fairness for RPNs, to lobby the Ontario government and educate the public on the daily struggles faced by RPNs.

In a video launched today, nurses are sharing their stories about their role in the workplace, how they contribute to good outcomes for patients, and the toll the pandemic has taken on their mental health and quality of life. Unifor locals are setting up meetings with their local MPPs and promoting the Fairness for RPNs petition.