Nursing Week is celebrated each year throughout Canada and the world during the week of Florence Nightingale's birthday on May 12. The celebrations are a time to recognize the dedication and achievements of nurses that contribute to excellence in health care.
As we celebrate the contribution of nurses, Unifor recognizes that they practice as an important part of an entire team of dedicated health care providers including personal support workers, continuing care attendants, and health care aides. It would be impossible for nurses to provide skilled, dedicated care without the support and contribution of other allied personnel in the operation of our health care facilities.
Across Canada, we are seeing an increasing need for competent, skilled and compassionate care for our elderly. Yet even as increasing responsibilities fall to families to provide unpaid care, services continue to be moved out of the public system and away from nurses and health care professionals.
Despite these challenges, it is becoming far too common for health employers to be lowering workplace standards and placing many health care workers, including nurses, into precarious work where they must work two or more part-time jobs to earn a decent standard of living.
Unifor also recognizes the risk of ever-present occupational disease and injuries - challenges faced not only by nurses, but all health care workers. These workers regularly face chronic short-staffing, increased patient acuity, exposure to communicable and infectious diseases, and escalating situations of violence which have become tragically all too common in our workplaces.
With great respect and admiration, our union salutes the contribution of nurses and other health care workers. We actively resist government pressure for decreased compensation under the guise of austerity, which ultimately only further hampers our struggling economy. Indeed, Unifor proved to be instrumental in resisting the removal of rights from health care workers in Nova Scotia this past year under the provincial Liberals.
In this time of economic inequality and insecurity, Canadians rely on their health care system more than ever. Enhancing working conditions will benefit everyone who is touched by our health care system.
In 2015, with a looming federal election, we also resolve that re-negotiation of the Health Accord be of prime importance to our next government. Unifor is committed to deepening our fight to defend the principles of the Canada Health Act, and to expanding its scope to include universal pharmacare, home care and long-term care while maintaining quality and accessible health care services for everyone.