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June 7, 2019

Convention 2019 - Newsletter, Day 5

2019 Convention


Nurses Rally for Political Action

Nurses won’t tolerate for any more attacks on public health care and will make their voices heard at the ballot box. That was the message nurses brought to the steps of the New Brunswick legislature during today’s Choose Care, Not Cuts rally.

The rally featured impassioned remarks from Sharon Teare, President of the New Brunswick Council of Nursing and Home Unions; Daniel Légère, President of the New Brunswick Federation of Labour; Vicki McKenna, President of the Ontario Nurses’ Association; Tracy Zambory, President of the Saskatchewan Union of Nurses; Darlene Jackson, President of the Manitoba Nurses Union; Heather Smith, President of the United Nurses of Alberta; and Linda Silas, CFNU President.

The march began in downtown Fredericton and weaved around several city blocks before arriving at the New Brunswick legislature. Teare and Légère kicked off the rally by condemning the attacks on collective bargaining in New Brunswick. After the election last fall, the newly elected Conservative provincial government, led by Premier Blaine Higgs, wasted no time in waging their attacks on unions.

“One thing we are seeing across the country is legislative interference in the collective bargaining process,” said Légère over chants of “Shame!”. “This is something we have to take on collectively. We have to come together like we’ve never come together before. We have to work as a coalition. Together, we can push back and protect our right to collective bargaining.”

McKenna, Zambory, Jackson and Smith followed with speeches about health care cuts happening in their respective provinces under conservative governments. Silas concluded the rally by reminding nurses of the upcoming federal election, and the importance of getting involved and making our concerns heard.

“We need to take care of our seniors. We need to take care of our children. At both ends of the spectrum, Canada’s nurses are going to be speaking for everyone, because everyone in this country counts,” said Silas.

“I’m telling you that the 200,000-plus nurses in this country are going to be knocking on doors, heading into the next federal election.”

For more information, nurses are encouraged to visit and share the CFNU campaign with their networks.

Federal Election Campaign Choose Care Not Cuts

We’ve heard a lot of statistics this week. We know the data is clear: Canada’s health care system is under attack, and it needs attention, improvement and care – we’re reminded of that each and every day we go to work. But we also know that people are emotional creatures: we often make decisions (including decisions at the voting booth) solely based on feelings.

That’s what informed the CFNU’s 2019 election campaign.

“People that we’re talking to get it. They understand the problems. But they aren’t necessarily moved to action,” said Adam Awad, a senior digital organizer with Point Blank Creative, who helped the CFNU develop the campaign.

Emotional appeals, however, have a greater tendency to get people to act. That’s why the campaign focuses more on feelings than hard data.

“We also see the world through an emotional lens,” explained Awad. “That’s where our values come from, that’s how we decide what’s good and what’s bad, what frightens us and what inspires us.”

“We wanted to take the campaign into that emotional realm. Say: ‘Yes, it’s about these issues, but there’s also a really personal impact.”

It’s all about getting the public to reflect on their values – to reawaken their passion for our universal public health care system.

The campaign, which was officially launched on Friday, features a poignant flagship video advocating for pharmacare, and calling attention to the nursing shortage and violence in the health care sector.

“This campaign will ask politicians to Choose Care, Not Cuts,” declared CFNU President Linda Silas. “It’s time to stop pretending that our health care system isn’t under attack.”

“By choosing care over cuts, Canada’s public health care system can work better for everyone.”

To join the campaign, go to By sharing our campaign video and materials on your social media channels, you can help us reach all Canadians with our message.

The Digital Transformation of Health Care

Yesterday, Andrew Au addressed a question we have all wondered about at some point in time: “Will robots take our jobs?”

According to Au, the idea of robots taking our jobs is strictly science fiction at this point. Rather, artificial intelligence (AI) brings a specific component of intelligence to our world – prediction. AI can’t be used for everything. Rather, it can help solve prediction problems that can improve the way we work, such as estimating wait times in an emergency department.

Au did a wonderful job introducing attendees to the wide variety of technology that is changing health care and the patient experience.

Did you know there are over 300,000 health care apps, with 200 new apps added each day?

We have lived through an exponential rate of change when it comes to technology. It can be overwhelming to try and stay on top of emerging resources. But there are some great ideas out there. And as the price point for AI continues to decrease, there will be an influx of users.

Take mixed reality holograms, for example. When asked who in the room was familiar with this technology, only a few nurses raised their hands. What is a mixed reality hologram? It provides simulation opportunities through hologram visualization.

“This is not the future. Mixed reality holograms are available today. The FDA has approved the use of this technology for pre-surgical procedures, allowing the simulation of surgeries before they are performed,” said Au.

This was just one of many examples Au shared with the group.

AI can improve our ability to communicate with patients. It is also an incredibly efficient decision support tool that can streamline data and improve cognitive workload. Imagine performing training on pixels instead of people. The benefits of technology are undeniable, but of course we need to remain vigilant to ensure that patient care is not impacted.

There’s no doubt that our digital worlds and our physical worlds are colliding, and change can be scary.

“Nobody likes change,” declared Au.

“We hear ‘change’ and we think that means we’re not doing something well enough. We won’t lose our jobs to robots. But we will lose our jobs to other people who know how to work with AI.”

How can we help nurses adapt to their changing work environments? Au believes the key to integrating AI is empowerment.

Organizations can empower care teams by helping them understand why the change is needed, including them in decisions and getting their buy-in.

“AI will not transform health care; cultural intelligence will transform health care.”

Only 730 more sleeps!

The Saskatchewan Union of Nurses is very excited to be hosting the 2021 CFNU Biennial Convention in the City of Bridges, located in the heart of the Land of Living Skies!

Pack your bunny hug, bring your appetite for amazing food… and Vico. And don’t forget your running shoes: we’re already planning another Healthy Walk through Saskatoon’s scenic walking trails.

We just can’t wait to welcome you to beautiful Saskatchewan for yet another amazing CFNU convention, jam-packed with Saskatoon berry jam, engagement, interaction, learning and sharing.

See you in 2021!!

Pssst… it’s spelt S-A-S-K-A-T-C-H-E-W-A-N.

Click here for SUN’s hilarious welcome video!

Bon Voyage!

Those five days just flew by, didn’t they? I hope you are leaving Convention fired up and ready to go, with a hot burning fire in your belly. I need you to keep that fire going: the next few months will demand our undivided attention and action as we fight for a brighter future for Canada’s health care system.

Remember: I can’t do it alone!

On that note, do make sure to sign up for our 2019 election campaign. Share our message far and wide: let’s make sure our voices are top of mind as voters head to the polls.

And stay in touch: we’re always only a few clicks away on Facebook and Twitter!

Safe travels and see you soon!

In solidarity, always,

Linda Silas

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