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It’s National Nursing Week – thank a nurse!

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

If I could only use one word to describe the work of OPSEU members in the nursing profession today, I would have to pick “diverse.”

Our union represents thousands of nurses. Some are nurse practitioners; some are Registered Nurses (RNs). Some are Registered Practical Nurses (RPNs). All of them play a vital role in health care in this province.

Nurses work in big cities and remote communities. They work in general hospitals and in people’s homes. They care for our babies, and they care for our parents. They work in government to enforce health regulations. They work in mental health facilities, and they work in jails. Everywhere they work, they bring a high standard of care and compassion to people who need both.

Indigenous Nurses, whose work we recognize on Indigenous Nurses Day (May 11 this year) bring awareness of Indigenous culture to their work and make us all more aware of the role cultural sensitivity plays in health care.

Health care without nurses is simply unthinkable.

We’ve come a long way since the days of Florence Nightingale, whose birthday on May 12 is marked as International Nurses Day. Nurses today are highly trained, no matter what their designation or scope of practice. But getting recognition for those skills is not always easy. No matter where they work, nurses need to speak with a strong voice, and they need strong representation.

That’s why, this week, OPSEU is launching our first-ever occupational division to represent RPNs across the seven OPSEU sectors they work in. That’s why, this month, our correctional nurses will be at Queen’s Park to tell the government what it’s really like to provide health care behind bars – and why nurses need more support and resources, not new bosses who’ve never dealt with the complex health needs of offenders.

There is no better way to mark Nursing Week than to recommit to standing with nurses so that all Ontarians – especially employers, MPPs, and government officials – recognize the value of everything they do. That’s what our union has always done. That’s what we will always do.

Day in and day out, nurses make Ontario a better place. So if you are a nurse, thank you. If you are not a nurse, thank one!