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June 3, 2019

Convention 2019 - Newsletter, Day 1

2019 Convention

Bonjour! Welcome to our 2019 CFNU Biennial Convention in the beautiful city of Fredericton, New Brunswick.

There are exciting four days ahead, filled with insight, inspiration and solidarity. Nurses from across the country will have the chance to reconnect, forge new friendships and have tons of fun. If you haven’t already, take a stroll through Fredericton’s historic downtown – and keep an eye out for some tasty local craft beers and great shopping!

This week, there’s also a lot of work to be done. As nurses, we are born leaders and advocates: we have the strength, the integrity and passion to speak up on a variety of topics impacting the overall health of our patients and our communities. From staffing levels and patient safety to violence in the workplace, to pursuing greater equality, to climate change and the upcoming federal election – nurses have the power to LEAD and the power to create positive change.

It’s going to be a great week!

If you haven’t yet, make sure to follow the CFNU on Twitter and Facebook. The convention hashtag is #Lead19.

These shoes were made for walkin’

There’s no better way to kick off Convention than with our favourite tradition: the Healthy Walk. Over 300 nurses joined Linda Silas, CFNU President, and the National Executive Board, for a scenic 3.5 km walk along the beautiful Saint John River in the heart of Fredericton. What a way to start Convention and get acquainted with our gorgeous host city!

Some lucky members even spotted a porcupine!

After a long day of travel, it felt good to stretch our legs, enjoy the fresh air and chat with friends. There’s a lot of sitting in the days ahead, so make sure to take a few more healthy walks of your own this week. Fresh air and exercise are a great way to sharpen our minds, give us more energy and liven our spirits.

SURPRISE: Hassan Yussuff Receives Bread & Roses Award

The evening featured an opening reception in the plenary room at the Fredericton Convention Centre. New Brunswick Nurses’ Union President Paula Doucet and CFNU President Linda Silas offered greetings to delegates, and introductions for a special guest of honour, Hassan Yussuff, President of the Canadian Labour Congress.

The CFNU is a proud affiliate of the CLC and an ally of the broader labour movement. As of May 2019, all CFNU member organizations have also joined their provincial federations of labour. This is a significant development for Canada’s labour movement, aided in part by the strong advocacy of Yussuff and Silas. The move has helped build solidarity and collaboration between nurses and other unions across the country.

After introductions, Doucet and Silas surprised Yussuff with a Bread & Roses Award to honour his contributions to Canada’s labour movement and advocacy on nurses’ issues. Every two years, the CFNU gives out Bread & Roses awards to honour individuals who have made outstanding contributions to policy and decision-making, raising public awareness, lobbying governments, and educating members and the public.

As President of the CLC, Yussuff has been instrumental in advocating for issues of common concern, such as universal pharmacare, ending violence in the health care sector, and fighting climate change.

The phrase “bread and roses” is associated with the successful textile strike in Lawrence, Massachusetts, between January and March 1912. The strike was largely led by women, and the strikers’ demand or both fair pay and dignified working conditions was summed up in the slogan, “We want bread, and roses too!”

– The Cry for Justice: An Anthology of the Literature of Social Protest, Upton Sinclair

“Hassan, you are receiving a Bread & Roses Award and now join the likes of Shirley Douglas and Maude Barlow,” said Silas as she presented the award. “This is now on your CV, and it comes with a beautiful bed of roses.”

Yussuff is a lifelong union activist with deep roots in Canada’s labour movement. He started his career as a heavy truck mechanic and soon became active with the Canadian Auto Workers union. First serving at the local level, he was later appointed director of the CAW Human Rights Department. In 1999, he was elected Executive Vice-President of the Canadian Labour Congress and, later in 2002, Secretary-Treasurer. In 2014, Yussuff was elected President of the Canadian Labour Congress and immediately helped lead the opposition to anti-labour attacks by the federal Harper government. He has since led the Canadian Labour Congress to embrace and champion the cause of a public pharmacare program for all in Canada.

“Nurses are the backbone of health care in this country,” said Yussuff. “Thank you for all the hard work you do across this great country of ours.”

Yussuff went on to provide an update on campaigns the Canadian Labour Congress is taking in advance of the 2019 federal election this October. Expansion to Employment Insurance benefits for Canadians accessing skills training program, ensuring paid leave for victims of domestic violence, legislating pay equity for all workers in federal jurisdictions, and expanding the guaranteed income supplement (GIS) for low-income seniors were all noted as significant achievements advanced by labour since 2015.

He implored delegates to get involved and help stop the return of Harper-style government to Canada, which was punctuated by unprecedented attacks on working people including nurses.

“For millions of Canadians across this country, they are worried about what will happen to them if they get sick,” said Yussuff. “We are going to make this the number 1 election issue and we will win this election.”

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