Unifor recognises the dedication and achievements of nurses who contribute to excellence in health care and raise awareness of the issues and challenges of health care workers.
People in Canada and around the world celebrate Nursing Week each year during the week of Florence Nightingale's birthday, May 12. The Canadian theme of Nursing Week 2021 is, "We answer the call."
"Even when facing unimaginable circumstances and unreasonable working conditions, Unifor nurses truly answered the call of the past year," said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. "These COVID heroes have been subjected to restrictive emergency orders and legislation. Today, they continue to work erratic and unreasonable schedules, taking no vacation and often needing to self-isolate from their families to protect them."
Unifor was the first union to publicly demand Pandemic Pay for health care workers in April of 2020. The unions' position continues to be that any worker subject to provincial Emergency Orders should receive pandemic pay.
"As the rate of hospitalization continues to threaten to topple Ontario’s healthcare system, and push out scheduled surgeries, we expect that nurses could possibly will continue to be redeployed across hospitals in the GTA, long-term care homes or retirement homes, possibly without the notice or training and orientation that the jobs demand," said Naureen Rizvi, Unifor Ontario Regional Director. "Premier Doug Ford likes to call our nurses heroes but refuses to treat them as such. Nurses alongside a slew of health care workers deserve pandemic pay and respect from their government. That includes ensuring they be prioritized for their second dose of the COVID-19 vaccination."
The pandemic brought to light systemic staffing and capacity shortages in Canada's healthcare and long-term care systems to the forefront with tragic consequences. This past year, Unifor pressured federal and provincial governments to improve healthcare workers' lives. The union lobbied for governments to introduce paid sick days, access to personal protective equipment and in provinces with pandemic pay, for it to be available and permanent for all health care workers.
"Nurses, along with all health care workers, are on the frontlines, battling this deadly and evolving virus each day," said Linda MacNeil, Unifor Atlantic Regional Director. "Their work invaluable in providing care for Canadians at a time when we have needed it more than ever. We are collectively grateful for their dedicated service."
The union will continue to be on the front lines fighting for the rights of all health care workers including demanding increased funding for public health care and a long-term care system that is not driven by profits.
This nursing week, the union encourages members and locals to share this statement and the Nursing Week image online on local websites and social media.
Unifor represents more than 30,000 health care workers, including 5000 nurses.
Unifor is Canada's largest union in the private sector, representing 315,000 workers in every major area of the economy. The union advocates for all working people and their rights, fights for equality and social justice in Canada and abroad, and strives to create progressive change for a better future.