HAMILTON/NIAGARA REGION –/COMMUNITYWIRE/– As part of Nursing Week (May 10-17) Hamilton and Niagara Region registered practical nurses (RPNs) who are members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU/CUPE) and SEIU Healthcare are speaking openly with media (tomorrow) Tuesday May 11 at 11 a.m. on ZOOM (http://bit.ly/OCHUSEIU-nursingwk) about their personal challenges and experiences working throughout the COVID-19 crisis.
Hamilton and Niagara Region hospital-based RPNs have worked diligently on the pandemic front lines for nearly 16 months. Behind their stoic façade there are tens of thousands individual stories of inner turmoil, trauma, and resilience.
Their unsettling first-person accounts of the impacts on their lives and wellbeing working in hospitals through the pandemic are supported by a CUPE poll of 750 Hamilton RPNs and an SEIU survey of 560 of their RPN members. Area hospital-based RPNs were probed about their mental health, morale, workload and how they feel about nursing following grueling months of pandemic work.
The Hamilton CUPE poll and SEIU survey findings open a window into this highly skilled but undervalued female workforce. The CUPE poll which included RPNs at both St. Joseph’s and Hamilton Health Science is also part of a larger Ontario-wide poll of 2650 CUPE RPNs. SEIU represents the RPNs at Niagara Health hospital sites.
Ontario funding for hospital care is among the lowest in Canada. Today across the province, hospitals are critically short of nurses. The poll and survey results are telling of an increasingly educated RPN workforce that even pre-COVID was dealing with a prolonged period of staff shortages, high acuity patients, heavy workloads, and health and safety risks.
Jointly CUPE and SEIU represent nearly 20,000 hospital-based RPNs among their collective hospital sector membership of about 70,000 who work in hospitals in every part of Ontario.
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