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RNAO ‘gunning for’ Registered Practical Nurses: OPSEU

Toronto – The Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO) is ‘gunning for’ the jobs of thousands of Registered Practical Nurses (RPNs) in the province, the Ontario Public Service Employees Union said today.

“Last year, the RNAO kicked off Nursing Week by issuing a position paper claiming that changes to the nursing mix in Ontario were putting patient safety at risk,” OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas said. “This year, they’ve repeated that unfounded claim as part of a concerted campaign to push the government to replace RPNs with Registered Nurses (RNs) across the province.

“I’m an RPN who’s married to an RN, and my union represents and supports both,” he said. “Both professions are tightly regulated by the College of Nurses of Ontario, both have a very clearly defined scope of practice, and both have a vitally important role to play in providing quality health care to Ontarians.

“Across this province, in every community, RNs and RPNs are team players who put the needs of their patients first,” Thomas said. “For the RNAO to try to pit them against each other is simply shameful.”

“To put that number in perspective, there are currently 18,000 RPNs working in hospitals in this province,” said Lucy Morton, chair of the union’s RPN Occupational Division. “Does the RNAO’s plan involve severance pay for the nurses they want to displace?

“What the RNAO is pushing is unrealistic and unattainable in the current environment, but more importantly, it’s unnecessary,” she said. “If the RNAO’s first priority is patient safety, they should join us to stop the funding cuts and end privatization. That’s what killing health care in Ontario.”

OPSEU held the inaugural meeting of its RPN Occupational Division today. The union represents 40,000 Ontario health care workers in all sectors of health care.

For more information: Warren (Smokey) Thomas, 613-329-1931; Lucy Morton, 905-317-9464