What an amazing week! So many memories and new friends. Fantastic workshops, great entertainment, and inspirational speakers!
THANK YOU Calgary for the great food, vibrant restaurants and bars, beautiful skyline, and of course….the shopping.
THANK YOU to the United Nurses of Alberta (UNA) for hosting us this week and showing us a great time!
The best way to start the morning, the day after the banquet, is with a few laughs.
Calgary Mayor NaHhed Nenshi delivered a light-hearted address which, at several times, caused the room to erupt in laughter. He also spoke about the need to stand together; to work together; for our community, our nation and our world. He thanked the nurses for their commitment to caring each and every day.
The Ontario Nurses Association and the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions and its member organizations are very pleased to be teaming up to support the work of the Stephen Lewis Foundation with a strong three year commitment of $135,00 a year for each of three years.
The Stephen Lewis Foundation (SLF) works with community-level organizations who are turning the tide of HIV & AIDS in Africa by providing care and support to women, orphaned children, grandmothers and people living with HIV & AIDS. Since 2003, they have funded over 1,400 initiatives, partnering with more than 300 community-based organizations in the 15 African countries hardest hit by the global AIDS epidemic. These grassroots groups are the lifeline for their communities: they provide counselling and education about HIV prevention, care and treatment; distribute food, medication and other necessities; reach the sick and vulnerable through home-based health care; help orphans and vulnerable children access education and work through their grief; and support grandmothers caring for their orphaned grandchildren.
The work that will be supported by this investment includes two projects with a particular focus on health care, including health human resources. The first project is the Panzi Hospital Mobile Outreach Clinic and Blood Bank in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). This clinic facilitates the safe collection of blood donations, and blood screening to ensure adequate supply of safe blood at the Hospital where they are much needed. Among other surgeries performed at the hospital a common surgery requiring blood products are fistula repairs, which are desperately needed. Fistula’s are often caused by multiple rapes which are used as a weapon of war in the DRC. The second project that will receive support is the Swaziland Nurses Association for their mobile clinic. Through their Swaziland Wellness Centre, the Nurses Association has provided health and wellness services to more than 10,000 health care workers. Health care workers are often unable to seek care during working hours, and the mobile clinic allows them and their families to be seen quickly and easily in their home communities and workplaces.
Since the very beginning, SLF has relied on the support of Canada’s labour movement. From funding special initiatives to general unrestricted funds, the support, solidarity and commitment of our movement has had, and continues to have a profound impact on communities across sub-Saharan Africa. CFNU and ONA are proud to continue this tradition of solidarity with the Stephen Lewis Foundation and are particularly pleased to be able to direct our support to our sisters and brothers in the health care sector who are working tirelessly under very difficult circumstances to turn the tide of HIV & AIDS, an epidemic which continues to disproportionately impact women and girls.
The Freedom to Speak Up – can you imagine? Being able to speak up for your patients safety, your profession, for healthcare issues and for yourself – without the added fear and stress of being reprimanded.
Keynote speaker, Sir Robert Francis QC, presented his findings from his 2015 report, Freedom to Speak Up, which examined the victimisation of whistleblowers in the National Health Service (NHS).
“The freedom to speak up is not the freedom to be bullied by your manager, the public, or your colleagues,” said Francis.
Francis’ report identified 10 principles for building a culture of “Freedom to Speak Up”, most to create an environment where:
Alberta Premier Rachel Notley received a “so-so-so solidarity” welcome before she addressed the 1,200-nurse delegation. She began her address by saying a big thank you to the nurses in the room for all that they do each and every day to make things better for others.
“There are few things in life that are more frightening than seeing someone you love in a hospital bed,” she said. “And, there are few things in life more reassuring than seeing the face of a smiling nurse ready to care for that loved one.”
She went on to speak about the state of the Alberta economy. She admitted that balancing the budget is necessary, but said that unlike some of the other provinces in Canada and despite calls from the opposition, her government will not “cut and fire”. The Alberta government has made a commitment to “build and hire”.
“We are building badly needed hospitals, long-term care homes. We are ensuing Albertans have the care they need when they need it,” she said. “We will work towards a balanced budget but what we won’t do is cut vital services that people depend on.”
She then told the story about Amanda who lost her job because she took time off to take care of her sick child.
“You should never have to choose between taking care of your family and protecting your job,” she said. “The law has since been changed with the introduction of Bill 17.”
Under Bill 17—the Fair and Family-Friendly Workplaces Act, no one in Alberta will be fired for taking time off to take care of a seriously ill family member.
The bill also does things like providing unpaid job-protected leaves for things like spousal abuse, while it explicitly makes illegal the practice of making employees pay for dine-and-dashes and gas-and-dashes, and prohibits the practice of paying disabled workers less than others because of their disability.
Furthermore, Bill 17 modernizes the process of certifying or decertifying unions in a workplace, minimizing the opportunity for bullying and intimidation by either side, makes it easier for newly certified unions to secure a first collective agreement, and formalizes Alberta’s recognition of the Rand formula, whereby because all workers in a unionized environment benefit from the union’s bargaining, they are all required to pay dues.
She concluded by saying that we must all work together so that we can get the best outcome for all Canadians.
What’s the best way to end such an amazing week? With 1,200 nurses marching through downtown Calgary to celebrate 150 Years of patient advocacy!