RNU in Action

RNU’s 28th Biennial Convention

March 14, 2023

Our convention is the supreme authority of the Registered Nurses’ Union. It’s a time to report on union work, conduct important business, and set our priorities for the next two years.

RNU’s 28th Biennial Convention was held October 24-28, 2022 at the Sheraton Hotel Newfoundland in St. John’s. We were thrilled to gather in person again for the first time since 2019 with almost 250 members and nursing students.

Our convention theme was Raise Your Voice, a rally cry for our members and union. With a dire nursing shortage and ongoing collective bargaining, we called on convention delegates to “Raise Your Voice” and continue the fight for better staffing, working conditions and safe patient care.

Delegates gave convention top marks, with 76% rating it as Excellent and 23% rating it as Good.

  • 97% agreed that “Convention helped me gain a better sense of the work being done by my union”;
  • 97% agreed that “Convention provided a good overview of RNU’s priorities for the coming two years”; and
  • 100% said they “Feel more motivated and connected to my union after attending convention”.

The fight for public health care is on

On October 25, RNU President Yvette Coffey delivered her first President’s Address to several energetic rounds of applause. Coffey thanked RNs and NPs for their tireless and lifesaving work, despite worsening working conditions and staffing shortages which have pushed our members and the health care system to their limits. “As frustrated and defeated as I’ve felt at times, I’ve also never been more proud,” said Yvette. She recognized members for being on the frontlines of the pandemic for more than 2 years, and stepping up and finding new ways of operating when a cyber-attack threatened to shut down our health care system. She acknowledged members for facing crisis after crisis – transporting patients to safety when wildfires threatened Central Newfoundland and hurricane Fiona destroyed the south coast, and responding to the Come By Chance explosion that seriously injured workers.

Yvette noted, “It’s not just in moments of crisis. What’s really incredible is what you do every day. All of you. RNs and NPs are not just valuable. You’re indispensable. The entire health care system would, in fact, collapse without you.”

With media and stakeholders present, Yvette delivered a clear message the fight for public health care is on. RNU will continue lobbying and advocating for the respect and support our members deserve and improved care for Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. Yvette sent a strong message about collective bargaining, calling on the provincial government to come to the table and negotiate a contract that will stabilize nursing and protect patient care.

Education sessions and conducting business

Convention focused on business and key education sessions. Some sessions were streamed on Facebook Live, but all education sessions were recorded and are available for all members to view on myRNU. Ten resolutions were passed at convention which can also be viewed on the app.

John Vivian, RNU’s Executive Director, provided a Negotiations Update. Mary Shortall of the NL Federation of Labour delivered her last Address as outgoing President. Linda Silas, President of the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions, provided a national update. We held various panel presentations: Solidarity, Why We Fight; RN Obligations in a Health Care Crisis; and Mighty Mighty Nurses – a Panel on Activism. These panels featured RNU members, RNU Labour Relations Officers, and special guests such as Michelle Acorn, Chief Nurse of the International Council of Nurses, and Mary Turner, President of the Minnesota Nurses Association.

Delegates also had the chance to ask specific questions and share their stories directly with RNU’s Board of Directors in our Open Forum. With so much to share, the Open Forum was extended into the following day.

But it wasn’t all education and business. Delegates also had the chance to socialize and have some fun at our Spooktacular Halloween Fun Night and our Nashville Nights Dinner and Dance, with entertainment by Spirit of Newfoundland. We also awarded the 2021 and 2022 Ovation Awards.

2024 will mark the 50th anniversary year of our union and will be officially recognized as the Golden Anniversary Year of the RNU. We can’t wait to plan a calendar of events to celebrate this milestone in RNU’s history and our next Biennial Convention.

RNU members can watch convention video recordings and view resolutions passed on myRNU.

Keynote Speaker Kellie Loder

Singer/Songwriter Kellie Loder captivated delegates with their Keynote Address on October 25. Loder is the first-place runner-up of City TV’s Canada’s Got Talent, and was named the 2021 Ron Hynes Songwriter of the Year at the Music NL Awards. They received a 2021 East Coast Music Award for their groundbreaking music video and compelling song, “Molded like a Monster”.

Along with sharing their inspirational story, Kellie performed several songs and single hits, including their 2019 single “Fearless,” which was chosen as the soundtrack behind CBC’s 2021 Tokyo Olympics coverage and an IMAX Trailer for Superpower Dogs, narrated by celebrity Chris Evans.

Delegates cried, laughed, and couldn’t stop telling their friends about it. Our evaluation revealed that Loder’s Keynote was the top-rated convention session (89.74% said Excellent).

Anyone who has heard Loder or watched them perform knows they’re a towering talent about to explode on the world stage. We were thrilled to welcome Loder at our 28th Biennial Convention.

Members can watch Kellie’s keynote session on myRNU.

Beyond Broken

On October 26, RNU held a Rally for Nursing and Safe Patient Care at the C.L.B. Armoury. Convention delegates were bussed from the Sheraton Hotel to the C.L.B. where we launched our new Beyond Broken media campaign. Nurse Practitioner Derrick Walsh and Registered Nurse Sarah Stratton spoke at the rally, sharing impactful stories illustrating how the nursing shortage has affected them and their ability to deliver patient care.

Other speakers included Mike Fagan, RNUs Vice President; Sherry Hillier, First Vice President of the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Labour; Darlene Jackson, President of the Manitoba Nurses Union; Linda Silas, President of the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions, and Yvette Coffey, RNUs President.

RNU received extensive media coverage from our Rally. We encourage you to learn more about our campaign at https://beyondbroken.ca/.