Dear SEIU Healthcare Nurses,

We are a healthcare-only union that cares about you and truly wants what’s best for you. So it was frustrating to pick up a wannabe union’s nursing pamphlet to find oversimplified “solutions” to some of nursing’s top challenges. That union is NOWU, and after reading their material, it became clear they only have a surface-level understanding of the issues that matter most to nurses.

As Canada’s healthcare union, we understand and care about your needs better than anyone else. I want to share some of the ways we are doing just that:

  • Ratios & Model of Care – We commissioned a study with McMaster University on the Role of Nurses in High Functioning Teams in Acute Care Settings, a valuable asset in advocating to decision makers on the safe and supportive use of RPNs. Long term, we want to see the province set ratios of RNs to RPNs and have made the investments to demonstrate this.
  • Scope of Practice – SEIU Healthcare went to the source to enact change, providing submissions to the College of Nurses of Ontario (CNO) to expand the scope of practice of RPNs. SEIU Healthcare Nurses are encouraged and supported to actively lobby the provincial government to educate them on the critical role RPNs play in healthcare.
  • Patient Assignments & Quality Assurance – We championed a Workload Review Form in the central hospitals’ collective agreement. SEIU Healthcare has created Quality Assurance learning modules on this topic and others. We are focused on making sure that all SEIU Healthcare Nurses are champions of safe workplaces and have the tools, support and confidence to accomplish this.
  • Charting – SEIU Healthcare Nurses know that increased workloads also bring a huge amount of stress to complete documentation. SEIU Healthcare Nurses across the province have used the Compensation vs. Compassion Calculator to see the numbers for themselves. This 30-second exercise is helping nurses get mad enough to take action – because as nurses we want to focus our time on providing quality, ethical care, not charting.
  • Joint Nursing Committee with Management – SEIU Healthcare’s critical bargaining win in 2017 secured RPN representatives an invitation to participate in professional practice councils or committees within the hospital – incredible progress, as historically only RNs were given a seat at the table. Click here to view the Collective Agreement
  • Abuse from Patients – SEIU Healthcare champions zero-tolerance policies for violence, and our members have a voice at important government tables, including the Ministry of Health Workplace Safety. Notably, SEIU Healthcare was the only service union to co-chair the provincial government’s Workplace Violence Prevention Table with Ontario Nurses Association (ONA). Furthermore, while nurses hope to never have to use Workplace Safety & Insurance Board (WSIB) coverage, we know having income security is critical in case you are hurt on the job. That’s why we continue to fight against government cuts to WSIB coverage for healthcare workers in Ontario.
  • Patient Workload – If a union promises to fix patient workload, they should show you their plan to back it up. Just as you do when you complete your Professional Responsibility/ Workload review forms, we continually advocate for your patient workload to be addressed by employers and government alike. SEIU Healthcare President Sharleen Stewart has been meeting with the Ontario Ombudsman and other key decision makers to champion your need for greater investments in frontline care and worker supports. Through these meetings, SEIU Healthcare is challenging decision makers to invest in healthcare by putting more nurses at patients’ bedsides. The SEIU Healthcare Nursing Division’s executive board has also been preparing to facilitate Lunch and Learns to empower nurses to report when an overwhelming patient workload prevents you from meeting your employer policy, or the standards and guidelines set out by the CNO.
  • Professional Liability Protection (PLP) – SEIU Healthcare protects nurses by providing you with free PLP malpractice insurance. Your PLP insurance provides you with access to top tier legal counsel, including support for court proceedings and responding to CNO requests for investigation or interview. Your SEIU Healthcare-provided PLP insurance will cover you if you participate in international nursing initiatives as well. As the profession grows so does your Malpractice insurance. In 2020 SEIU HC ND added additional benefits and coverage to your existing PLP Program which already superseded the requirements of the CNO.
  • Dedicated Nursing Division – Since 2006, SEIU Healthcare’s Nursing Division has been recognized as a separate division of the union with its own budget, constitution and bylaws. Other unions do not have this distinction and that makes SEIU Healthcare’s Nursing Division unique – just like the 7,000+ RPNs and nurses we represent across our beautiful province. Like the nursing practice, SEIU Healthcare is constantly evolving. In 2021, when we enter hospital central bargaining, the voices of SEIU Healthcare Nurses will be heard loud and clear by the government and employers. Our Nursing Division has a separate bargaining table where RPNs negotiate with employers on issues that impact professional practice. We want more empowered nurses, from across the province, to have a seat at this table.
  • SEIU Healthcare Nursing Townhall – We have always been in your corner, successfully pushing for and protecting the rights and benefits you deserve as an essential frontline healthcare worker. Join SEIU Healthcare’s Nursing Townhall on September 17 at 7 p.m. by calling in to 1-800-457-6025 to learn about all of the above and more.

Think of everything we’ve fought for and won together – a fight that began before NOWU existed, and one that will continue long after they’re gone. Let’s stay focused on continuing to push for professional respect, adequate compensation, better benefits, protection for workers’ rights and improving the lives of all healthcare workers.

Now more than ever, it’s important to stand together. Remember: One Goal, One Team, One Vision. We Are Nurses.


Jackie Walker, RPN
President, Nursing Division
SEIU Healthcare Canada