Nurses need more than recognition for National Nurses Week 2023

During National Nurses Week (May 8-14), we celebrate the vitally important health care that Registered Practical Nurses (RPNs), Registered Nurses and Nurse Practitioners provide to all of us.

OPSEU/SEFPO nurses work in so many different health care settings, like developmental service agencies, community agencies, correctional facilities, hospitals, retirement homes, psychiatric facilities,  and mental health agencies to name a few.  The union has a dedicated RPN Division, which works to advance demands for bargaining and better working conditions for RPNs across the province.

We have all benefited from the compassion, knowledge, skill and professionalism of nurses throughout our entire arc of care. But it’s getting harder and harder for nurses to give the kind of excellent care they are known for providing, given the dire conditions in their workplaces, and the privatization that the Ford government is expanding across Ontario’s health care system.

Nurses need more than recognition during National Nurses’ Week. The RPN Division is determined to fight alongside all OPSEU/SEFPO health care sectors for better wages, increased staffing, and an end to the Ford government’s health care privatization scheme, specifically when it comes to agency workers.

Part of that fight includes voting to stop the privatization of public hospitals in the Ontario Health Coalition’s citizen-run referendum. Visit to vote for public hospitals during May! Also, the OFL’s Enough is Enough campaign is holding a day of action on June 3, in locations across the province, demanding higher wages, better public health care, and affordable food, housing and fuel. Find an event near you!

The understaffing of nurses reached crisis levels during the pandemic, and that crisis continues. Despite their dedication and love of nursing, nurses are exhausted and burning out.

Many nurses were subject to Bill 124, the legislation that imposed a three-year wage cut on public service workers during record inflation. Those who weren’t covered by Bill 124 are still often underpaid by their employers. Many nurses, tired of the disrespect and overwork, are leaving the profession altogether, making the understaffing crisis even worse. In the short term, employers are paying temporary agencies many times more than what they are offering to their permanent staff, instead of attracting permanent staff with better pay and better working conditions.

The RPN Division is also calling on the College of Nurses (CNO) to cancel a proposed $70 increase to their annual licensing fees in 2024 – a whopping 26% increase to the current $270 fee. A fee increase of that magnitude is unaffordable and unacceptable.

At Convention 2023, the RPN Division hosted a table in the marketplace and sold beautiful sunflower bracelets to raise funds for the Division’s work. They were a symbol of the Division’s hope for a brighter future and determination to bring nurses together and organize for positive changes.

If you are an OPSEU/SEFPO member and an RPN, sign up for our RPN Network mailing list to get the latest news and information about the vital work that you do. Solidarity to all during National Nurses’ Week!

Convention marketplace table, blue tablecloth that has RPN IAA logos, sunflowers and posters on the table.