Bill 195 is the proposed legislation to reopen Ontario. It is described by the government as a “flexible response to COVID-19.”
The Ontario Nurses’ Association and the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions strongly oppose this bill. Below is CFNU’s letter to Premier Ford. You can find more information about the Ontario government’s Bill 195 on ONA’s website.
The following is a letter we sent to Premier Doug Ford on July 21, 2020.
July 21, 2020
The Hon. Doug Ford
Premier of Ontario
By email: firstname.lastname@example.org
On behalf of Canada’s nurses, I would like to express my grave concerns with your government’s Bill 195. While your government moves to reopen the province, it is working to strip nurses and other frontline workers of their constitutionally enshrined rights. This is simply unacceptable.
If passed, Bill 195 would allow employers to override collective agreement provisions and the grievance arbitration procedure for Ontario’s frontline workers. The very workers your government has depended on to bring us to the possibility of reopening the economy are the ones being thrown under the bus through this proposed legislation. It is appalling that the rights of these workers are at stake – especially at a time when they are being rightfully touted as heroes and heroines.
It is difficult to comprehend the degree of stress nurses and other health care workers are currently under. Over the course of the pandemic, I have heard regularly from nurses about having to sleep in their basement after working a double shift, being deprived of the chance to spend time with loved ones. They are terrified of contracting the virus and are deeply frustrated by the lack of PPE made available in their workplaces.
To add insult to injury, nurses in Ontario are now being faced with the prospect of losing their vacation rights, leave of absence rights, seniority rights and health and safety rights through Bill 195. Nurses are exhausted beyond belief. It is not only cruel to pass legislation depriving them of their rights, it is also unfair to expect them to have the capacity to put up a fight in the midst of a pandemic that they are responsible for fighting.
The Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions refuses to be silent. We join with workers across the province in expressing our outrage that this bill is being rammed through without public input and limited debate. We believe this bill is unconstitutional and that it ought to be reconsidered by your government. Nurses are always willing to engage with employers and governments on issues pertaining to our workplace rights. However, we do not take kindly to unilateral efforts to quash them.
Linda Silas, CFNU President
Cc.: Vicki McKenna, President, Ontario Nurses’ Association