TORONTO — Hundreds of nurses and their supporters took to the streets here March 2 to demand better wages, more staffing and improved conditions.
Chanting “Enough is enough!” and “If we can’t get it, shut it down!” nurses protested outside the hotel where their union, the Ontario Nurses’ Association, was attempting to negotiate with the Ontario Hospital Association. The nurses had been faced with a wage cap of no more than a 1% increase per year, imposed by the Ontario government on most public sector workers in 2019.
Following a recent strike of education workers, which was backed by a significant labor mobilization on their behalf, Bill 124, which imposed the cap, was struck down by the courts. The government is appealing the decision.
Hospital staffing levels fell further during the pandemic, leading to worse working conditions and even deeper challenges for nurses to be able to provide the care patients need and deserve.
“Nurses are fed up with this government and employers expressing appreciation for the work we do, while simultaneously failing to provide working conditions that truly show the value of what we do each day,” Interim Ontario Nurses’ Association Provincial President Bernie Robinson told the press March 3. “This system is being held together by the nurses and health care professionals who have shown incredible dedication to their patients.
“Words are empty. What counts is a contract that provides better staffing levels, wages and benefits, so that we can provide better patient care,” she said.