Frontline nurses earn less than many of their peers in other provinces and they work longer hours to make up for that. Now nurses are demanding that pay disparity is fixed so that their hard work can be valued and maintained.
It is time for nurses in Ontario to have a fair say over their salaries. Nurses, who are held in high regard by patients and their communities, are for too long viewed as a non-unionized and low wage income group. Nurses deserve better.
For decades, nurses in Ontario have not had a collective agreement. Having negotiated new contracts with their employer every five years, nurses have put in long hours to meet the demands of the growing number of patients they see.
Nurses in Ontario work four longer days than colleagues in other provinces. This means nurses have an additional week’s work per year, while still working more hours.
Nurses in Ontario do not receive a paid strike mandate, forcing them to wear bright orange scrubs while walking picket lines to raise awareness of the inequity of their pay and working conditions. Nurses in other provinces such as British Columbia and Quebec have the right to legally strike to protect their patients’ right to safe and appropriate care.
Nurses in Ontario do not have a guaranteed minimum amount of duty time to keep them safe, instead working eight-hour shifts starting at 5:30 a.m. and ending at 11 p.m. Nightshifts can go as late as 10 p.m. Nurses’ working hours may have expanded in recent years to cover additional duties such as caring for patients with end-stage illness, including end-stage renal disease. Nurses in Ontario are also responsible for running therapy clinics, attending to patients with complex needs and providing bedside and adult daycare care.
For nurses, this is time they do not have available to themselves. It is not fair for nurses to cover overtime shifts and then be expected to go straight back to their job.
In addition to work-life balance, nurses must be required to continue receiving proper monitoring and treatment in hospital.
Despite working in Ontario for their entire careers, some nurses are earning significantly less than their counterparts in other provinces. In 2017, a small minority of nurses earned up to $50,000 less than their peers in British Columbia and $75,000 less than colleagues in New Brunswick. It is time for this to change.
Burdensome work hours, difficult work conditions and insufficient benefits undermine patient care. It is time for Ontario nurses to have a fair say over their salaries.