The Ontario Nurses’ Association (ONA) is calling today “a dark day for the province’s registered nurses and health-care professionals” as the Ford government has passed Bills 195 and 197.
“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.”
McKenna says that registered nurses (RNs), nurse practitioners (NPs), registered practical nurses (RPNs) and health-care professionals are “exhausted from the long hours, stress and uncertainty they have endured during COVID-19, and they deserve respite. Instead, this bill enables their employers to deny or cancel vacation time, redeploy them to another unit or health-care facility at any time, and have far too much authority that is unchecked by the collective agreement.”
At MPP offices across the province, ONA members are protesting the bill and calling for it to be repealed.
The ONA says Bill 197, the COVID-19 Economic Recovery Act, amends dozens of pieces of legislation. ONA notes that the legislation – among many other measures – also amends the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
“Bill 197 does not appear to have much to do with COVID-19 economic recovery,” says McKenna. “Instead, it allows health and safety measures and environmental protections to be watered down.”
ONA is the union representing more than 68,000 registered nurses and health-care professionals, as well as more than 18,000 nursing student affiliates, providing care in hospitals, long-term care facilities, public health, the community, clinics and industry.