They hugged. They cried. They shared stories.
More than 100 Covid heroes met in-person for the first time since the pandemic began in 2020.
Health care workers gathered at Unifor’s Family Education Centre in Port Elgin, Ontario. on June 9, 2022 for Unifor’s three-day Health Care Conference, to discuss bargaining strategies and challenges facing their workplaces and their sector.
“Health care workers across the country are demanding employers and governments to respect them, protect them and pay them adequately,” said Katha Fortier, Assistant to Unifor’s National President. “Considering the sacrifices health care workers made during the pandemic, these demands are reasonable.”
During the conference, delegates listened to a health coalition panel on the issues facing health care workers in Nova Scotia, Ontario and throughout Canada. The panel was moderated by Fortier and Natalie Mehra, Ontario Health Coalition Executive Director, Steven Staples from the Canadian Health Coalition and Susan Gill, Unifor Staff Representative from Cape Breton, N.S.
While Ontarians said that health care was their number one issue in the recent Ontario election, voters failed to show up at the polls and only 43% of the population determined the outcome.
“Though we may have not gotten the results we were hoping for in the Ontario elections, we must always remember our strength is in our numbers,” said Naureen Rizvi, Unifor Ontario Regional Director. “We have built an army of activists and we are ready to take on Doug Ford for the next four years.”
Burn-out and mental health issues remain ongoing burdens health care workers face daily. Guest speaker Sarah Stewart spoke about her training from Open Minds Mental Health Training and Consulting in a session called, “Mental Health First Aid Training,” focused on providing health care workers the necessary tools and resources to better resolve mental health challenges.
"I want the Nova Scotia government and every government across Canada to get their act together,” said Linda MacNeil, Unifor Atlantic Regional Director. “Start investing in public healthcare like our lives depend on it. Because it does.”
For more information, visit Unifor’s Mental Health resources page.