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National Nursing Week highlights the vital role nurses play in our health care system

Healthcare workers

Nursing is a tough, relentless and challenging job and that’s why this week – National Nursing Week – it’s important to thank a nurse for all that they do for us and our families.

Nurses have to do physically and mentally demanding work while caring for their patients – most of whom are in pain and scared. And nurses’ role as frontline healthcare workers often puts them in challenging situations with patients’ loved ones, who can also be highly emotional. I know firsthand about the hard work and dedication that’s needed to be a nurse as I am a registered practical nurse and my wife Val is a registered nurse.

OPSEU is proud to represent thousands of Ontario’s nurse practitioners, registered nurses and registered practical nurses. The nurses that OPSEU represents don’t just work in hospitals. They work in a wide variety of settings including home care, schools, palliative care, long-term care, corrections and mental health facilities – just to name a few. The work they do is as diverse as they are.

And now nurses and other front-line health care workers are under threat by the Ford government, which wants to completely restructure Ontario’s health care system by creating a so-called “super agency.” It’s also slashing $200 million in funding to local public health units. We have yet to see the full impact of Ford’s changes, but it has already started with 40 nursing positions being cut in Kitchener at the Grand River Hospital.

OPSEU also celebrates Indigenous Nurses Day, which falls on May 8th this year. Indigenous nurses have a unique role in taking care of the health and wellbeing of Ontarians; especially those who live in Indigenous communities. Indigenous nurses are often the only frontline health care workers in remote communities. They are also knowledgeable in cultural and traditional healing practices and care for patients who have challenges that people in non-Indigenous communities don’t face; such as, poor sanitation and housing situations, not having access to affordable healthy food or clean drinking water and intergenerational trauma due to policies like residential schools, the Sixties Scoop, and the removal of indigenous children from their communities.

OPSEU thanks all of the nurses who are there for all of us through every stage of our lives.

In solidarity,
Warren (Smokey) Thomas, President