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Celebrate Nursing Week!

OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas released this statement today to mark National Nursing Week.

Since 1971, nurses around the world have marked May 12 – birthday of legendary nurse Florence Nightingale – as International Nurses Day. Since 1985, the government of Canada has recognized the second week of May as National Nursing Week. It’s a time to celebrate the work of nurses everywhere.

I’m a Registered Practical Nurse (RPN), and my wife Val is a Registered Nurse (RN). In our family, we know just how important nursing is to the quality of life in this province and this country. There are more Canadians in nursing than in any other area of health care. They help us at every age and stage in our lives and in all health situations. It’s a fact: virtually everyone in this country has been touched by a nurse.

As president of OPSEU, I am extremely proud to represent thousands of RPNs and RNs in an incredibly wide variety of settings. OPSEU nurses work in general hospitals, to be sure, but we also work in home care and in long-term care. We work in developmental services and public health. We work in schools and in palliative care. Some OPSEU nurses are nurse practitioners; others enforce provincial health regulations. And many OPSEU nurses work in mental health centres and correctional facilities around the province.

It’s impossible, really, to list all the different settings OPSEU nurses work in. But wherever they work, they are making a difference – to people, and to communities.

As part of Nursing Week, OPSEU also celebrates Indigenous Nurses’ Day on May 9. Indigenous nurses show tremendous commitment and dedication to their profession and the First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities they serve. Indigenous nurses are sometimes the only frontline health providers in remote areas. Importantly, they also promote awareness of cultural sensitivity and appropriate health care delivery.

On behalf of all 130,000 OPSEU members, I salute the work of our nurse members and of nurses everywhere. The dedication, compassion and diversity of experience they bring to their profession allow them to provide the safe, effective, compassionate and ethical care that Ontarians expect. And don’t forget a nurse’s personal touch. It’s just one more way our nurses make the difference.

And it’s worth celebrating.