Ontario nurses feel betrayed by government’s Reopening Ontario bill

'Allows government to override collective agreements'

The Ontario Nurses’ Association (ONA) called it a dark day for health care professionals.

The Ontario government passed bills Wednesday the Association says allow the government to override collective agreements and take away the rights of nurses and health care professionals.

“This government has bypassed democratic process and rammed through Bills 195 and 197. Bill 195, the creatively named Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19 Act),” says ONA President Vicki McKenna, RN, “provides extensive powers to override collective agreements and take away the rights of our nurses and health-care professionals who have been working so hard to provide care during the pandemic.”

The bills, says the Association, allow employers to deny or cancel vacation time and redeploy members to other units or facilities at any time.

Jennifer Christie of Barrie wrote on Facebook:

“As a healthcare worker I am horrified and deeply saddened by the passing of bill 195 and the impact this will have on those in my line of work. We collectively bargained for provisions regarding schedule, vacation, floats well deserved time off! We continue to put our loved ones and ourselves at risk in order to provide care to those in our longterm care homes/hospitals etc. Often working short but always giving our residents 100% and caring for other people’s loved ones as if they are an extension of our own family. I feel as though one week we are being called heroes and the next we are being stripped of our earned and honestly well-deserved provisions that our collective allows us. It’s a slap in the face and sadly it will impact this already broken system with the lack of security regarding scheduling vacation etc. I expect many more to leave this career path and seek other employment opportunities. In my 15 plus years of PSW employment, I have seen a steady decline in the number of staff available and the number of student enrollment in this field continues to decline. I am encouraging all coworkers to ensure our government officials hear and hopefully address our concerns.”

ONA members plan to protest the bills at MPP offices, demanding they be repealed.

banner image via Ontario Nurses’ Asociation