Leadership Notes

Message from RNU President

March 22, 2022

Together, we are RNU

As I write this message, I’m reflecting on my first year as RNU President.

I won’t lie. It’s been one of the most challenging years of my life.

Becoming union president amidst a global pandemic and nursing shortage hasn’t been easy, but I have never been one to shy away from a challenge.

I’ve thrown everything I have into this role because I know what you are up against – what RNs and NPs face every single day to simply try and do your jobs.

I want to thank each and every one of you. These past two years have been extremely difficult and stressful. You make RNU strong and proud.

While you might not always feel it, your union has been working hard to create a better future for nursing in Newfoundland and Labrador.

RNU’s dedicated board of directors, our small but mighty team at RNU office, and our incredible union volunteers on the ground are working tirelessly on your behalf.

RNU is working with Gov NL and the Regional Health Authorities (RHAs) to push solutions forward and advocate daily on your behalf. We launched a media campaign, participated in a National Day of Action, engaged MHAs, and advocated for health human resources to be addressed at the Health Accord table. We’re keeping the pressure on, talking to the media almost weekly.

At a press conference on March 1, Premier Furey publicly acknowledged the system has failed you. He also committed: “We need to fix the system to protect all of you. You need a work environment that is conductive to your own health – to your own well-being.”

A number of initiatives to address recruitment and retention were announced during the press conference as a starting point.

A Think Tank was held on April 4-5 to strategize innovative short term measures to improve the workplace and retention and recruitment.

We’re calling on government to develop a plan coming out of the Think Tank with incentives and other measures that can be introduced immediately to improve the workplace and retain RNs and NPs. A committee has been struck with RNU, the Department of Health and RHAs to move this plan forward.

In January, RNU released our 2022-2024 Strategic Plan. I encourage you to read it to learn more about the work of your union and plans for the coming years.

Lobby efforts on recruitment and retention will continue to be a huge focus. We’ll also examine how RNU can best use our capacity to serve members during these unprecedented times. For the first time since 2004, your union will complete an Organizational Review and assess our volunteer structure and resources within provincial office.

As you may know, RNU is preparing for collective bargaining. Your Executive Director John Vivian writes about bargaining here.

We know there is a lot at stake this round. It will be vital to reach a deal at the bargaining table that actually addresses recruitment and retention and is fair and respectful of our members and all that you have sacrificed.

We have a long way to go, but we are prepared to fight.

I have worked on the frontline as a registered nurse for 32 years. I know it’s hard to believe that your workplaces will improve. But there are glimmers of hope.

Editorial cartoon in The Telegram following the joint press conference.

Gov NL is now publicly acknowledging the extent of the challenges you face, the impact the pandemic has had on you, and, most importantly, that serious action is needed.

Let’s hold them to it.

What I know for sure as we move forward is that we need you on side. The 5,300 registered nurses and nurse practitioners of Newfoundland and Labrador are a powerful force.

Over the coming months, we’ll be calling on you to help us push for change and share your stories from the front lines.

The public deeply respects you and we need them to advocate on your behalf.

The power we have as a union stems from our collective strength.

Together, we are RNU.