September 22, 2021 -  No. 86

National Day of Action September 17

Nurses Are "Done Asking"

Constituency office of BC Premier John Horgan in Victoria

We're Already in the Next Healthcare Crisis - Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions

Workers' Concerns Are Everyone's Concerns
No to Legislating Against Postal Workers' Rights! - Jeff Callaghan
Serious Concerns About Quebec Government's Bill 59 - Simon Lévesque

National Day of Action September 17

Nurses Are "Done Asking"

From BC to Newfoundland and Labrador, nurses raised their voices on September 17 about their untenable working conditions. They called on governments to take immediate action to support nurses and all health care workers under the theme "Done Asking."

The Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions (CFNU) and nurses unions in the provinces and Quebec organized car caravans, pickets, rallies, press conferences and social media events to draw attention to the demands of nurses for safe staffing levels and pay and working conditions that they need to do their jobs. In announcing the day of actions the CFNU pointed out that "Seventeen months into a deadly pandemic, and more than a decade into a chronic nursing shortage, nurses and health care staff are overworked, underpaid, burnt out, and suffering moral distress because there are not enough staff to provide the care patients deserve."

Nurses are speaking in their own names and creating public opinion for the solutions that are needed, rejecting the high-handed dictatorial decrees of governments which make the situation worse. They are demonstrating through their work and their stands that their working conditions are essential to provide the health care of the people of Canada and Quebec and defending their rights and the rights of all.


Edmonton, Alberta


Winnipeg, Manitoba

Eastern Townships, Quebec

New Brunswick

Nova Scotia

 Prince Edward Island; Newfoundland


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We're Already in the Next Healthcare Crisis

The nursing shortage has reached a critical level.

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed deep cracks in Canada's health care system. These are problems we can't socially distance from. This election, it's crucial we invest in nurses and health care.

Staffing levels are dangerously low across the country. Twenty-nine per cent of nurses experienced clinical levels of burnout -- and that was before the pandemic.

If this health crisis continues, it means fewer emergency beds, cancelled life-saving surgeries, and less support for long-term care -- among many other issues.

Our strained health care system needs urgent action, including investing in more nurses, fixing our long-term care, expanding access to quality child care, and finally ensuring everyone can get the medications they need through universal pharmacare.

We need to invest in our health care now -- for a better future and to recover post-COVID-19. Our political leaders need to step up.

We can't continue with stopgap solutions -- we'll put even more lives at risk.

To learn more, download nurses' platform here.


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Workers' Concerns Are Everyone's Concerns

No to Legislating Against Postal Workers' Rights!

Jeff Callaghan is the National Director, Atlantic Region, of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW).

I think that the biggest issue for us as CUPW, when it comes to our employer, is making sure that the employer, and through extension the government, respects the work we do and does not just pay lip service to it. When we are in a pandemic they call us heroes, they call our work essential, and yet every time we go to exercise one of our fundamental rights in this country, that being the right to withhold our labour, the government steps in and has the employer's back.

We haven't really had the opportunity to freely bargain a collective agreement for some time now. If we put aside the two-year extension of the collective agreement that we just agreed to, for at least the last three or four rounds of bargaining, Canada Post has been reluctant to deal with really important issues like health and safety. Because of its intransigence and knowing that the government has its back, it has not bargained and the government simply sweeps aside our fundamental rights, legislates us back to work and imposes collective agreements on us.

I think the biggest issue for the workers at Canada Post is to make sure that we are able to freely bargain with our employer without interference, without the Crown corporation knowing that the government has its back and not the workers' back.

The right to strike is supposed to be a fundamental right and it has been upheld by the Supreme Court of the land. Yet every time workers, not just those in the post office but across the country, exercise that right governments of all stripes, not just the Liberals and the Conservatives but the NDP provincially as well, have stepped in and taken the employer's side and legislated away our rights.

Our members expect a lot more and as far as the union goes, we devote a large amount of both finances as well as person-power to bargaining collective agreements for our members in both the public and private sector. We have seen time and time again that employers sitting across the table from us pay lip service on how they appreciate our work, understand our issues, but don't do anything to address those concerns, knowing that there is a government in their corner.

Our main concern, first and foremost, is our health and safety at work. We have employers who are pushing forward with new agendas, bringing in new equipment and work processes, automated equipment that will put workers' livelihoods at stake.

We need to be able to freely bargain with our employer around those issues, to make sure that our workers are well protected going forward. And we can't do that effectively with the way things are in this country, and provincially, given the willingness of governments to take the employer's side every time over that of the workers.

Particularly within the context of the pandemic and the federal election just past, all political parties have been saying how much they appreciate workers like the Canada Post workers who worked through the pandemic providing essential services to people. Yet, with the federal election over, we know that governments will slip back into their old way of siding with the employer.

That needs to stop if we are going to have any kind of labour peace in this country. Workers must feel that they are respected, that the unions are respected and that the work they do is important for the country as a whole.

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Serious Concerns About Quebec
Government's Bill 59

Simon Lévesque is the Head of Health and Safety for the Quebec Federation of Labour-Construction (FTQ-Construction).

A big concern right now is with the Quebec government's Bill 59 on the occupational health and safety regime.

We are very far away from an agreement between employers and workers about this bill, which supposedly has to do with the modernization of the regime, when essentially it's about managing losses. Employers want to save money through the regime by penalizing workers.

They do not want to make commitments to prevention at the workplace.

They want to save money on the treatment and rehabilitation of workers' injuries and on compensation, for example by setting the number of treatments allowed for an injury. The bill places limits on treatment and hands the authority for the recognition of occupational diseases over to regulatory committees, which requires an agreement between the employer, the union and the Labour Standards, Pay Equity and Workplace Health and Safety Board (CNESST). We know from experience that it takes so long to get a regulation that I don't see how we could agree to have occupational diseases recognized by regulatory committees.

We are in a context of labour scarcity, with employers trying to fill positions quickly by reducing training, by not worrying about occupational health and safety. If, within such a context, jobs do not include adequate working conditions and prevention mechanisms that protect the health and physical integrity of workers, then when is this going to happen? It would take a big change for this to happen and we know that the governments in power are not pro-worker.

Employers are making the same economic arguments as in the early 1900s, that health and safety is expensive, that it will kill the economy, etc. The human factor is not important to them. Everything is reduced to an issue of money. They talk about reducing costs by reducing prevention. In fact, it's through prevention that costs will be reduced. The human cost is huge and the economy and society as a whole suffer when a person can no longer function, go out, afford anything, provide for his or her children.

For employers to say they want to keep their management rights is absurd. They'll keep their stewardship rights by saying that something is good for workers even when they know it's not. Bill 59 gives them what they want, at the expense of the health and safety of workers.

We cannot agree with that.

(Translated from original French by Workers' Forum. Photos: CSN, CSD)

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