BCNU Update Magazine Feb-Mar 2014

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Ellen Christison Bulkley Valley District Hospital





Inspiring change by honouring and celebrating the achievements of women all around the world.

UPDATE MAGAZINE February/March 2014



CONTENTS vol 33 no 1


ebruary/march 2014

RED AND BLACK Pacific Rim regional executive members Brenda Hill and Rachel Kimler wear their colours to protest Island Health’s care restructuring scheme in Nanaimo February 14.



Check In

News and updates from events around the province.

12 Time to Talk Mental Health BCNU is creating a solutionsfocused dialogue.

15 CNSA Conference 2014

Inspiring the next generation of nurses.

18 Bargaining 2014

Members gathered in Vancouver for BCNU’s provincial bargaining strategy conference.

31 PRFs Work

Royal Jubilee Hospital cardiac unit nurses tackle workload.

33 Our Choice, Our Voice BCNU Elections take place March 10-31.




Inconsistent implementation of flu policy casts serious doubt on health employers’ stated objective of improved patient safety.

Influenza Control Policy Position Statement

special pull-out page 17.


BC Nurses’ Union


OUR MISSION STATEMENT BCNU protects and advances the health, social and economic well-being of our members and our communities. BCNU UPDATE is published by the BC Nurses’ Union, an independent Canadian union governed by a council elected by our 42,000 members. Signed articles do not necessarily represent official BCNU policies. EDITOR Lew MacDonald CONTRIBUTORS Juliet Chang, Laura Comuzzi, David Cubberley, Gary Fane, Monica Ghosh, Katharine Kitts, Dan Kruk, Evans Li, Courtney McGillion, Debra McPherson, Catherine Pope PHOTOS Laura Comuzzi, David Cubberley, Monica Ghosh, Cheryl King, Katharine Kitts, Lew MacDonald

CONTACT US BCNU Communications Department 4060 Regent Street Burnaby, BC, V5C 6P5 PHONE 604.433.2268 TOLL FREE 1.800.663.9991 FAX 604.433.7945 TOLL FREE FAX 1.888.284.2222 BCNU website EMAIL EDITOR MOVING? Please send change of address to Publications Mail Agreement 40834030 Return undeliverable Canadian addresses to BCNU, 4060 Regent Street, Burnaby, BC, V5C 6P5


UPDATE MAGAZINE February/March 2014






VERY FEBRUARY THE PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT TABLES ITS annual budget in the Legislature. I was in Victoria when Finance Minister Mike de Jong delivered this year’s numbers to the media and assembled stakeholders. I listened as he announced that medical service premiums were going up again this year by four percent while he informed us that healthcare funding would not be keeping up with the cost of technology, inflation and population growth. This means BC families will be paying more and getting less. It means more cuts to services for those who are already falling through the cracks. And yet the minister was proud to announce a balanced budget. As I thought about how this would force health authorities to limit spending this year and cause more patients to suffer, it became obvious, once again, that the minister’s priorities were all wrong. Getting priorities right means making investments that will reduce pressure on the provincial budget over the long term. It means spending a little bit more in the present in order to save a lot in the future. The crisis in mental health is a stark example of what happens when we get our priorities wrong. The chronic underfunding of community mental health services has resulted in a growing number of people with untreated mental illness who urgently need care and support. But without this investment the criminal justice system has become the default care provider for many seriously mentally ill patients while nurses in community, residential and acute facilities work in unsafe conditions with impossible workloads. We can’t afford to wait for the government to take the lead in tackling this crisis. In

the year ahead BCNU will be reaching out across communities to help create a solutions-focused dialogue on mental health that benefits nurses and patients (see the article on page 12 of this issue of Update magazine for more details). Getting priorities right isn’t hard. It simply requires listening and responding to your communities’ needs. The government would do well to listen to British Columbians who, in poll after poll, have said they favour increased investments in healthcare. It’s one of their highest priorities. And our members are struggling to provide safe care on the front lines of a system that is now chronically underfunded. They experience the effects of government budget decisions first hand. Healthcare is certainly a priority for them – and the government ought to listen. We only need to look to BCNU’s provincial bargaining process for an excellent example of what effective priority setting looks like. Our union is committed to involving the entire membership in bargaining well before the start of actual contract negotiations. Last September we mailed surveys to BCNU’s more than 40,000 members covered by the Nurses’ Bargaining Association contract as well as new BCNU members coming to the NBA from the Community Bargaining Association. All were asked to identify issues most important to them. A series of regional bargaining conferences were also held through October and November that saw Executive Director of Negotiations and Strategic Development Gary Fane and me visit all of BCNU’s 16 member regions and hear first-hand from hundreds of nurses about the challenges they are facing today and their hopes for future contract talks. We presented the survey results at last December’s Provincial Bargaining Strategy Conference in Vancouver (see the article on page 18 of this issue of Update for more details). I’m proud of our inclusive and democratic process that gives our newly elected bargaining committee the mandate it needs to negotiate in the year ahead – confident we’ve got our priorities right. update






Keeping your contact information up-to-date is vital for ensuring you get the information you need to stay informed about union events and activities. For example, the recent BCNU election booklets containing unique voter IDs could only be mailed to members with current mail addresses. (Don’t worry – if you’d like to receive a booklet there’s still time. Please email before March 10 to request a voter ID. After March 10 you can call the BCNU Election Hotline at 1-800-894-3311). The BCNU Simon Fraser regional executive wanted to improve their outreach

efforts and make it easier for members in their region to keep in touch. They decided to allocate some of their outreach budget for the purchase of two iPad tablets that they use on walkabouts and in meetings in their region – and they’re happy with the results. “It’s been really effective,” says Simon Fraser region co-chair Debbie Picco. “Before, we would always be reminding members to update their contact info after their shift or when they got home. Now we have the tablets open to the BCNU member portal and have the member log in right there and update their contact information on the spot.” Don’t forget to update your contact information on the BCNU member portal today.


CNU PRESIDENT, DEBRA MCPHERSON MET with locked out IKEA workers on December 20th to offer support and deliver a little Christmas cheer. Despite heavy snow and cold temperatures, McPherson and other BCNU representatives dropped off 280 Safeway gift cards valued at $25 each to help IKEA employees who have been locked out since May 2013. Shop steward, Bernie Boivin, has been with IKEA for 26 years and says the visit boosted the morale and spirit of those on the picket lines. “It’s just amazing and it warms our hearts,” says Boivin. “Our morale has been good so far, but this just boosts it even more.” The labour dispute between Teamsters Local 213 and IKEA is the second longest ever seen in BC and it shows no sign of a quick resolution. “We felt it was important to come here today and tell locked out employees to keep on fighting and not to give up,” says McPherson. update

HONOURING PRIDE Frank Gillespie (pictured, back row), along with members of the LGBT caucus, was presented with a framed hand-sewn BCNU pride flag in honour of his commitment at the BCNU Human Rights and Equity Conference last December. With him to celebrate were (l-r) Tony Edgecombe, Robert D’Andrea, Cynthia Reid, Paul Smith, Kathann Terrett, Frank Gillespie, Anna Fritch, Lynda Anderson, and Ron Francoeur.

UPDATE MAGAZINE February/March 2014



for Pres iden t • Vice



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Coun cillor s • Regi onal



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Booklets containing voter IDs have been sent to all members. If you have not received your booklet please call the BCNU Election Hotline (1-800-894-3311) after March 10.


BCNU in the headlines


When Fraser Health Authority data was released to the public showing dozens of incidents of violence and aggression toward staff at the Abbotsford Regional Hospital and Cancer Centre and Mission Memorial Hospital last year, BCNU Fraser Valley region chair Linda Pipe spoke to the Chilliwack Progress about her experience. “Nurses are getting hurt - we didn’t go into nursing to do this. We went into nursing to take Linda Pipe care of people,” said Pipe, who reported that nurses at the hospitals are faced with everything from verbal abuse, to biting and spitting, to hitting and other assaults. When ARHCC opened in August 2008, there was one such incident reported for the year. That figure jumped to 22 in 2009, then to 42 by 2012. February 2011 was the most violent month in the history of the facility, with nine incidents occurring that

month alone. Pipe said the situation is similar in Mission Memorial Hospital. RCMP in the community responded to 50 calls in 2013, or an average of four per month. But Pipe said the official stats on violence are low. “It’s totally underreported. I do know that security has more incidents than what is reported on the Code White (violent patient) report forms,” she said, adding that only a portion of incidents result in WorkSafeBC claims. Pipe said BCNU members working in the ARHCC emergency department tell her there’s at least one violent incident per day, but that nurses often don’t file an official report unless the incident results in injuries. “They accept it as part of the job – being sworn at, or being spat at. In some cases, I think they think that, at least that’s all they got ... They weren’t hit.”

GOOD DEAL Members at Glenwarren Lodge in Victoria voted 94 percent in favour of their new collective agreement. Clockwise from back: Chris Peterman, Heather Wilhelmson, Michelle Simpson and Cathy Josephson.



EMBERS WORKING AT REVERA’S GLEN­ warren Lodge in Victoria ratified a new collective agreement February 4th. The agreement contains a memorandum of understanding on job security that will see the retention of its current number of RN hours and the red-circling of nursing supervisors and the Clinical Nurse Leader that includes the April 1, 2013 wage increase, and the maintenance of a no contracting-out clause. “The biggest priority was job security and we got that in this agreement,” said worksite steward Chris Peterman. “All of the other parts of the contract don’t matter if you don’t have a job to begin with.” The new contract ensures that any future reductions of RN positions are subject to mutual agreement and only if there is either a 10 percent reduction in bed utilization at the residential care facility or a 10 percent reduction in funding from Island Health Authority. update





Labour Relations Board ordered transfers and votes, along with new organizing drives, results in new members

UPDATE READERS WILL RECALL THAT IN THE LAST issue we reported on the impact of the passing of Bill 18—the Health Authorities Amendment Act—which created a number of scenarios in where affiliate-employed Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) found within the Facilities Bargaining Association (FBA) were able to join BCNU last fall. Since then, the Labour Relations Board (LRB) has ordered a similar process for LPNs employed at worksites within the Community Bargaining Association (CBA). Following the same LRB-ordered processes for FBA affiliateemployed nurses, LPNs within the CBA found themselves transferred directly into BCNU or facing a representation vote between the incumbent union and BCNU at their worksite. For worksites excluded from either process, LPNs at those sites exercised their legal right to change their union representation by signing cards to trigger a representation vote. Similar to results enjoyed by nurses voting in FBA affiliate sites, LPNs at CBA sites voted overwhelmingly to join BCNU. By the end of December, BCNU welcomed nearly six-hundred new members working in home health, public health units and in mental health throughout the province. update

GUNG HAY FAT CHOY Coastal Vancouver region gathered for its annual New Year’s dinner celebrating long-term care members last month.

Did you know that drug side effects are now a leading cause of death, disability, and illness? Experts estimate that only one to 10 percent of “serious” adverse events (those causing hospitalization, disability, or death) are ever reported. This does not include the millions of “medically mild” adverse drug events that occur each year — ones that compromise a person’s concentration, functions, judgment, and ability to care. Now, a group of international health researchers and academics have established, the first free, independent website where patients, doctors, and pharmacists can research prescription drugs and easily report a drug side effect — identifying problems and possible solutions earlier than is currently happening. helps patients research prescription drugs and report side effects on

the site’s anonymous database. A secure reporting process also allows them to identify which drugs they are taking and comment on their effects. They can then generate a customized report for their doctor or pharmacist that provides them with, among other things, an RxISK Score indicating how likely it is that they are experiencing a drug side effect. For more information visit

COMMUNICATING AT WORK Internationally Educated Nurses recently celebrated completion of their course held at the BCNU offices last December. From left to right: Anna Fritch (Instructor), Keiko Shimada, Andrea Wardrop (Instructor), Dory Hormillada, Solly Abraham, Lenette Torreto, Inna Zorya, Jiadong Kang, Charlotte Nsonga-Tshibangu, Johana Isidro, Charlotte Yan, Esther An and Robin Russell (Instructor).

UPDATE MAGAZINE February/March 2014

LEADERSHIP & LABOUR RELATIONS PROGRAM: TRANSFORMING UNION LEADERSHIP AT WORK This spring the BCNU The LLR Program will launch its longis a cornerstone of awaited steward BCNU’s vision of education program. becoming a learnThe first of its kind in ing community. It British Columbia, the focuses on develLeadership & Labour oping key steward on Program Relations (LLR) program capacities and Steward Educati is an innovation in union introduces a leadLEADER SHIP R U education. Expanding O B L A IONS ership component, REL AT upon the popular Basic preparing graduand Advanced Steward ates for advanced workshops, the program labour relations takes a comprehensive approach roles within the union. to steward education, developing The first course – A Brief and building upon competencies History of Work – launches on that are essential for the steward May Day, followed by core fountoolkit. dation courses. Intermediate In part a response to the evercourses begin in the fall with demanding field of healthcare, additional courses and electives the LLR Program is designed to being offered throughout 2015 help stewards deal with complex and 2016. The LLR Program will and rapidly changing work envieventually be based in BCNU’s ronments. Its goal is to enable new Education Centre, but will stewards to become more powfeature both offsite and e-learnerful worksite leaders, and more ing components. Members can effective in supporting members complete the program in about in achieving positive outcomes. two years.


NEW LEADERS January Basic Steward Training participants. From left to right: Back row: Mabel Walcott, Marva Vidal, Ian Makus, Glenna Lynch, Colleen Dhami, Nisha Khan, Lesley Scholz, Roland Grahame, Jeffery Piper. Middle row: Esthmentrie Prashad, Stella Poon, Krista Rae Gutowski, Javier Gonzalez. Front row: Cindy Sanguin, Neville Dennison, Celena Faulkner, Desiree O’Hern.



FROM INTERPRETATION TO ACTION New online interactive tool gives members the information they need BCNU’S POPULAR YouTube videos featuring “Becky NU” have been viewed by thousands of members who are working to make sure employers comply with the new staffing replacement language in the Nurses’ Bargaining Association collective agreement. Becky is back in a new interactive contract interpretation tool for stewards and members. It offers answers to frequently asked questions and explains common scenarios that arise around the need to replace nurses on their units or worksites. The tool is particularly important as BCNU approaches bargaining. “Becky NU” is Members have clearly said they want featured in BCNU’s latest safe staffing to keep the safe staffing provisions campaign resource negotiated in the last NBA contract. for stewards and But the employer has not been members. respecting contractual obligations around replacement – either for short or long-term absences, vacation or when units are at overcapacity. The employer is also, by and large, not enforcing its commitment to consult the nurse-in-charge in overcapacity situations. BCNU members have to know their rights and defend them at the worksite in order to retain this important language in the next contract. This is why it is important to read and understand the NBA collective agreement. The contract interpretation tool can be found on the BCNU website, linked from the right sidebar, under “Campaigns.” update




AWARENESS IS NEEDED ABOUT UNEQUAL PARENTAL BENEFITS WHEN A FEMALE NURSE HAS A BABY SHE IS GRANTED THE FIRST TWO weeks at 85 percent of her normal weekly earnings, and then a further 15 weeks of employment insurance top-up to 85 percent of her normal weekly earnings. She is also entitled to use sick leave credits earned prior to using the supplemental employment maternity benefit (SEB) provided her absence is due to a valid health related condition. After the termination of the SEB plan female nurses are entitled to 37 weeks of unpaid leave. Men are entitled to one special leave day to cover the day of labour, and 37 weeks of unpaid leave. This is a gross inequality within the Nurses’ Bargaining Association contract. At top wage this works out to a difference of $15,043 between men and women. Granted, a male’s role in child birth is significantly different than a woman’s. However the difference becomes much smaller once the newborn is home. The role of the father in modern families has changed significantly from the past. For me, becoming a father was a long and hard-fought battle. My wife and I were unable to conceive naturally. With the help of a fertility clinic we had a healthy baby boy nine years after our journey began. My single paternity leave day was used up during the labour and subsequent operation, after which I was hung out to dry. Neither my wife nor I have family in our area. My wife was unable to lift our newborn due to surgery and having mobility trouble. I was expected to go back to work. Stressed out, not sleeping, and trying to care for both my wife and new born, I tried to use sick leave. I talked to my GP who signed me off work and agreed that it would be unreasonable for me to be trying to work with everything that was going on at home. This leave was denied by my employer who subsequently did not pay me. I am the sole income earner for my family and feeling panicked! I did have a great union rep who was able to argue that sick leave was to be paid out for the three weeks that I was off. The conclusion was that for future pregnancies I should plan to use my vacation time for the birth of my child. This seems pretty unfair. I don’t know why this issue keeps slipping through our contract. One reason could be the lack of awareness. Most nurses I talked to assumed that I too was eligible for the same SEB top-up as they were and were quite shocked to find out the reality. Men in nursing are a minority and subsequently their issues tend to go unheard. Male nurses are a small percentage of our membership and should not be a huge financial burden on the system. I’m not asking to reinvent the wheel. Many other unions do recognize the male’s role in the birth of a newborn. All I’m asking for is equal pay for equal work. I do the same job as any other nurse, I pay the same dues, and yet I’m not eligible for the same benefit. I think we have let this issue pass long enough. David Huntley Duncan

Please join our open forum and send your letters to:

Supplemental Employment Benefits (SEB) in collective agreements are linked to the Employment Standards Act and the Employment Insurance Act. These laws provide for two distinct benefits: pregnancy leave of 17 weeks (15 weeks paid) available only to birth mothers and parental leave 37 weeks (35 weeks paid) available to birth mothers, birth fathers, and adoptive parents. The distinction between pregnancy benefits (only available to birth mothers) and parental benefits (available to all parents) has been the subject of many unsuccessful legal challenges. For example, the Ontario Court of Appeal has said: … it is not necessarily discriminatory for governments to treat biological mothers differently from other parents, including adoptive parents. In order to cope with the physiological changes that occur during childbearing, biological mothers require a flexible period of leave that may be used during pregnancy, labour, birth and the postpartum period. Indeed, such leave provisions may be necessary in order to ensure the equality of women generally, who have historically suffered disadvantage in the workplace due to pregnancy-related discrimination: see Brooks v. Canada Safeway Ltd., [1989] 1 S.C.R. 1219, 59 D.L.R.(4th) 321. The SEB in the NBA and FBA collective agreements (like most such agreements) provides a top-up to 85 percent of pay for 17 weeks of pregnancy benefits only to members who are eligible to receive employment insurance pregnancy benefits (that is, only to birth mothers). The NBA agreement does not provide a top-up of parental benefits for anyone, male or female. BCNU has tried very hard in past rounds of bargaining to improve this situation. It is an important bargaining goal and, unfortunately, one that has gotten more difficult as courts and arbitrators have considered the issue. The FBA agreement does provide a top-up to 75 percent of pay for 10 weeks of parental benefits. This will certainly be a focus at the NBA bargaining table. update

UPDATE MAGAZINE February/March 2014



CDMR DELAYED Vancouver Island nurses are strong in their resolve to halt Island Health’s care restructuring scheme

POWERFUL VOICE Vancouver Island nurses (l-r) Brenda Hill, Kelley Charters, Kris Vanlambalgen and Linda Crocker sent a strong message to the Island Health Board at its January 29 meeting.


URSES IN SOUTHERN VANCOUVER ISLAND BREATHED a sigh of relief when the news broke that Island Health was delaying the launch date of its new care model at Royal Jubilee and Victoria General Hospitals. The originally scheduled January 2014 implementation date has been pushed back to April 23. The health authority claims it needs more time to hire and schedule care aides. But BCNU South Islands region co-chair Adriane Gear says there’s no doubt nurses’ actions are having an impact. “We believe a successful petition drive, media coverage, rallies and public support meant Island Health had no choice but to delay the implementation of a care model that jeopardizes patient safety.” CDMR was launched last September at Nanaimo Regional General Hospital. To-date, Island Health hasn’t indicated that it intends to stop implementation of the new care model. BCNU President Debra McPherson says there will be no backing down of the union’s opposition to it. “We would prefer Island Health cancel the new care model completely. It has failed in Nanaimo, where nurse-to-patient ratios have doubled, compromising professional standards and safe patient care.” While Island Health has changed the name of its staffing experiment from Care Delivery Model Redesign (CDMR) to “patient care model”, the situation remains dire for nurses and patients at NRGH. An internal Island Health survey of staff was obtained by BCNU. It found that 88 percent of nurses wouldn’t want a family member to be a patient in their unit, 86 percent didn’t have enough time to complete patient care tasks safely and 90 percent said baseline staffing wasn’t adequate to address an average workload BCNU steward Kelly Charters says the nurse survey shows just how badly wrong CDMR has gone since it was implemented. “When nine out of ten nurses working there wouldn’t

want a family member to be a patient on their own unit, you know you have problems,” she says. BCNU Pacific Rim region chair Jo Salken agrees. “The recent quarterly evaluation report by Island Health shows that nurses don’t have time for charting or discharge planning, which shouldn’t be a surprise since nurses workloads have doubled and patient contact has decreased.” Salken notes that two stewards are now working full-time to support members and their grievances at NRGH, but morale is low. Nanaimo nurses sent a strong message to the Island Health Board at its January 29 meeting in Campbell River, where they delivered 2,000 new petitions demanding a halt to CDMR. More than 12,000 people have now signed the petition, expressing concern for the safety of patients where the patient care model is being used. “Nurses are committed to caring safely for their patients, so we aren’t going to sit back and say nothing if a new patient model downgrades care,” says BCNU steward Kris Vanlambalgen. In December and January, BCNU also fielded a four-week print advertising campaign in Nanaimo, Cowichan and Victoria, to counter Island Health’s refusal to acknowledge that CDMR replaces professional nurses with unlicensed care aides. The ads are also intended to raise public awareness of the vital role trained nurses play in overseeing and monitoring patients’ recovery and return to health. update


TIME TO TALK MENTAL HEALTH BCNU is reaching out across communities to create a solutionsfocused dialogue that benefits nurses and patients


T’S HARD TO TURN ON THE RADIO OR television without hearing headlines related to the issue of mental illness. Stories of homelessness, addiction, dementia and workplace stress all speak to the fact that mental illness is a serious and growing problem. It is estimated that one in five Canadians will develop a mental illness at some time in their lives. Many more individuals such as family, friends and colleagues are also affected. According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, mental illness affects people of all ages, educational and income levels, and cultures. Psychiatric illness is now the leading cause of long-term disability in healthcare. The economic cost of mental illnesses in Canada for the healthcare system was estimated to be at least $7.9 billion in 1998 – $4.7 billion in care, and $3.2 billion in disability and early death. The persistent high rate of homelessness in the City of Vancouver is one of the more visible manifestations of mental illness – and a clear indication that policy solutions are needed to address the problem. The situation has become so dire that both Vancouver’s Mayor and Chief of Police have made public calls for the province to provide more help for the mentally ill. “Vancouver is in a crisis situation of people with untreated, severe mental illness who urgently need care and support,” said Mayor Gregor Robertson. “The City can only do so much to address the growing gap in our health and social safety net. We need ongoing support and partnerships with senior levels of government and community stakeholders.” The BC Nurses’ Union is one of those stakeholders. Nurses are on the frontlines of healthcare and have a unique and valuable perspective when it comes to finding solutions, and union President Debra

Cathy Robinson Peace Arch Hospital Jackie Drummond Kamloops Public Health Unit

UPDATE MAGAZINE February/March 2014

McPherson is a member of the mayor’s mental health task force recently created to tackle the issues facing the city. “Patients and their families lack support in dealing with mental illness,” says McPherson. “Nurses in community, residential and acute facilities work in unsafe conditions under impossible workloads, and the police and criminal justice system have become the default care provider for many of the seriously mentally ill.” BCNU has been actively pushing health authorities and all levels of government to allocate resources for mental illness services as much as possible. However, despite ongoing efforts, health authorities continue to cut many mental health services. BCNU Council responded to these significant concerns when it decided to task the union with developing a mental health strategy aimed at creating safer workplaces for nurses, providing better care for patients and building a better system for British Columbians. Catherine Fast is the new project manager behind the mental health strategy. She is a former executive director with Vancouver Coastal Health, the Provincial Health Services Authority and the Occupational Health and Safety Agency for Healthcare (OHSAH) in BC. TALKING MENTAL HEALTH Nurses are on the front lines of health care and have a unique and valuable perspective when it comes to finding solutions to the metal health crisis.


One of our many goals is to ensure nurses are not physically or mentally threatened while on the job.


A registered Occupational Therapist, Fast understands how a healthy workplace is a key enabler of safe, quality care and says the strategy is also aligned with the union’s belief that safe and healthy workplaces are foundational to the provision of safe patient care. “One of our many goals is to ensure nurses are not physically or mentally

SPEAKING FOR NURSES BCNU’s Director of Occupational Health and Safety Lara Acheson (l) and Mental Health Strategy project manager Catherine Fast (r) are advocating for the development of a new model of mental healthcare that supports better outcomes and delivers value to the people of BC.

threatened while on the job,” says Fast, who notes that a continued lack of investment in mental health services is apparent both on the frontlines and throughout the system. “A quality workplace isn’t just good for nurses, but good for patients too.”

McPherson says the marginalization of persons with mental illness leaves them at risk for harm to themselves, to those providing care and, in some cases, to the public at large. Serious assaults on nurses occur at an alarming rate by persons with mental illness, addictions and/or dementias and cognitive limitations. She points to the lack of investment in healthcare and frontline staffing as the cause. “Visits to our already overburdened emergency rooms in hospitals are increasing and we could see an increase in relapses for persons suffering from addiction and dual diagnoses,” says McPherson. “This could result in more homelessness and increases in police interventions. It’s penny wise and pound foolish economics.” To add to the problem, the cuts are leading to increased workloads for nurses. Five years ago, a community nurse would have worked with a caseload of 40 patients. Today, that number ranges between 60 and 70 patients – a substantial jump in a five year period that doesn’t meet provincial guidelines which state workloads sit at no more than 20 patients. BCNU’s mental health strategy is designed to address these concerns, one step at a time. Fast says it’s an exciting initiative that will ensure both nurses and patients are given the tools they need to succeed. “We are committed to working with employers to create physically safe and psychologically healthy workplaces as well as insuring early effective supports are in place.” Look for more in the year ahead. update


FIGHTING FOR PUBLIC HEALTHCARE Fourth year nursing students develop educational video on Canada’s Health Accord


SIMPLE ASSIGNMENT FOR three fourth-year nursing students at Comox’s North Island College has led to a new, helpful video explaining Canada’s Health Accord. The five minute, educational tool was born after Ashley Schuhmann, Alex Martin and Sherella Wyton were assigned a leadership project in September 2013. They decided to focus their efforts on the Health Accord after realizing how few of their colleagues knew about the 10-year federal-provincial-territorial agreement, which is set to expire this March. The 10-year accord was signed in 2004 and represents Ottawa’s commitment to Medicare, Canada’s single-payer public health insurance system. It provided stable long-term funding with steady increases in a legislated framework after deep cuts in the 1990’s. The accord also reaffirms the Canada Health Act tenets of universality, portability, accessibility, comprehensiveness and public administration which ensure that care is available to all regardless of ability to pay. “We touched on it briefly in first year, but we really didn’t know anything about the Health Accord to begin with,” says Wyton.

SENDING A MESSAGE Student nurses Ashley Schuhmann, Alexandra Martin and Sherella Wyton (l-r) created an educational video on the need for a renegotiated 2014 Health Accord that has been shown in over 20 schools around the province.

“We wondered why it wasn’t being talked about. Considering its importance and impact, we were shocked at the lack of basic understanding.” The three students set off on what would be an extensive learning experience. Their research began by attending meetings and speaking to experienced nurses in an effort to learn more. The process led the team to realize condensing the complex issue into a five minute video wouldn’t be easy. “The Health Accord is a big document and there are many different pieces to it,” says Schuhmann. “We struggled to find a balance between knowing what to put in the video to keep it informative and to the point at the same time. It was definitely a tough balance.” Wyton, Martin and Schuhmann soon realized that large audiences weren’t up-todate on the status of the Health Accord. As the team set out to change this, they ran into their own set of obstacles while researching the topic. “It took so long just to find the information we needed for the video,” says Wyton. “Besides some sensational media pieces, we had a hard time finding cold hard facts. I

think this is part of the reason there’s a lack of understanding on the Health Accord in the first place. There’s nothing out there to grab someone’s attention–and even less out there to educate them.” Their efforts proved successful, however, and the finished product has surpassed expectations as a classroom assignment to becoming a useful educational tool. The video has been shown in over 20 schools around the province and garnered hundreds of views on YouTube. Narrated by Wyton, it provides a detailed, yet straight forward tutorial on the Health Accord’s importance, its impact on the country’s public healthcare system, what it means if it isn’t renewed and what individuals can do to spread the word. “We wanted to focus on what people are familiar with and why the Health Accord is so important to universal, public healthcare,” says Martin. “It was difficult to cram it all in as well as find something that would resonate with the public but I think we succeeded.” Patients, the public and healthcare unions, including the BCNU have been calling for a renegotiated accord since 2012 and have asked provinces to call Ottawa to the table. The federal government continues to ignore the calls of the provinces and territories to work on a deal, and has announced $36-billion worth of healthcare cuts that are scheduled to come into effect after the next federal election in 2015. All three students are thrilled their project has received such positive feedback and that it continues to be used in classrooms as a captivating resource. The hope is that it will become a national resource for student nurses, or anyone who wants to learn more about the importance of a renewed 2014 deal. “We have high hopes that it will eventually go Canada-wide,” says Schuhmann. “This project taught me that in order to inspire, you need to tailor your information in a personal and professional way. You need to make something, like the Health Accord, personally relevant for people to pay attention. It’s an ongoing challenge, but at least we’ve added to the conversation.” Please join the cause for a renewed 2014 Health Accord. View the video by visiting: update

UPDATE MAGAZINE February/March 2014

INSPIRED STUDENTS Back row (l-r): Sally Vlanich, Caitlin Monterey, Kayla Vollrath, Harman Boparai, Emily Gage, Maria Geluck, Paulo Balatbat and Courtney Miller. Front row (l-r): Rupali Kapila, Greg Giles, Jessy Dame, Paige Bewley, Stephanie Heuring, Shelley Brown, Joseph Zeller and BCNU North West chair Sharon Sponton.




NYONE INTERESTED IN seeing what the future of Canadian nursing looks like only had to visit Vancouver’s Hyatt Regency Hotel, January 22-25. This was the venue for the 2014 Canadian Nursing Students’ Association (CNSA) conference, an annual event that sees hundreds of students from across the country gather to learn, network and chart their career paths. BC Nurses’ Union President Debra McPherson was on-hand to deliver opening remarks and welcome the youthful audience to BC. “As you begin your journey in nursing, I want to let you know that if you work in this province, the BCNU will be there for you every step of the way, to educate, support and protect you in your nursing practice and beyond,” she said to exuberant applause.

BCNU Council Student Liaison and North West regional chair Sharon Sponton was also there to greet the students, telling the assembled delegates that they’re an inspiration and thanking them for their enthusiasm and dedication to nursing and patient care. BCNU is a CNSA sponsor and every year the union funds 16 BC nursing students – one from each BCNU region – to attend the event.


his year’s conference was hosted by Langara College nursing students, who chose the theme “Envision. Create. Innovate.” to guide the event’s agenda. Conference Director and fourth-year Langara College nursing student Tina Tiu said the theme was about encouraging students to develop their own path in nursing. “We have guest speakers


talking about different fields such as forensic nursing, aboriginal health, men in nursing, and transgender issues to name a few, so it’s great for first-year students that are just getting into nursing, it’s going to spark their path.” Tiu is proud of the range of activities her team was able to organize. This included workshops on financial literacy, stress management, activity rooms for yoga, dancing, and massage. There was also a scholarly showcase highlighting student research projects and a call for arts such as paintings and sculptures that highlight the aesthetics of nursing. Tiu says the event was also an ideal networking opportunity. “The number of attendees was the most ever at more than 800!” she said. “We had exhibitors and a career fair here – you could get a union card and could be interviewed right on the spot.” Tiu says Langara College won the bid to host this year’s event at last year’s CNSA conference in Halifax. “It was also the first time that CNSA was hosting a national conference in Western Canada. We wanted to spread the word to every nursing student that membership in CNSA is worth it.”


anine Lennox is the chair of Langara College’s School of Nursing. She recalls hesitating when her students said they wanted to host the 2014 conference because of the work involved in organizing a national event. But she gave her enthusiastic students the green light to put forward their successful bid. “It helped our students develop a sense of identity and closeness – I’m so proud of them.” “One of the benefits of attending this conference is getting to meet students from all over the country,” says Lennox. “When I talk to students, I encourage them to attend because it prepares them to look at not just what is happening here now, but to think nationally and internationally. Coming to one of these conferences is one of the most formative experiences you will have as


Having students see the bigger picture and be involved builds leadership for the future of nursing in our country. JANINE LENNOX



a nursing student.” “I was funded to attend a Canadian Federation of Nurses conference in my second year and it was a great experience that made a huge difference,” recalls Lennox. “Having students see the bigger picture and be involved builds leadership for the future of nursing in our country,” she explains. “They have creative minds, they draw on their knowledge of technology and what’s possible.”


essy Dame is a third-year Thompson Rivers University nursing student. He’s a BCNU student representative at his school and was one of 16 BCNU-sponsored regional attendees. He’s also the organizer of the CNSA Regional Conference being held in Kamloops this October and active in the TRU nursing undergraduate society, but it wasn’t always this way. “In my first two years of studying, I didn’t make time for a lot of activism,” recalls Dame. “I feared bad grades and thought I didn’t have time for anything except school,” he admits. “But a friend roped me in to being the BCNU student rep. I went to meetings and saw what a family it was and I kept going. I love seeing nursing students come to an environment like this and connect with everybody so easily,” he says. “I was quite nervous at my first undergraduate society meeting, but there are so many people with the same interests that you start bonding with everyone.”


tephanie Heuring was another BCNU-sponsored attendee. The second-year Langara College nursing student says she decided to get involved in the conference after some organizers came to her class and spoke about it. “I found the first year and a half of nursing school really intense, so I didn’t feel like I had any extra time,” she says. “But now that I’m in term five I feel like I have a bit of a break.” She’s glad she came. “As soon as you start to get involved, you meet so many interesting people, and there’s so much to learn. Everyone here is passionate about the same thing – they all want to be a nurse!” Heuring says she knew she wanted to be a nurse since she was in fourth grade. “When I was younger I was always in and out of the hospital, and as a patient I learned what it was to be a good nurse. I saw people that loved their job and I wanted to be one of those people, and so far I’m loving it. I understand what it feels like to be a patient, so from a nursing perspective I feel more comfortable. In the future I think I want to do some rural work, maybe volunteer in other countries. I love kids, so maybe Africa or something,” muses Heuring, echoing the hopes of so many student nurses at the conference. update For more information visit:

AN INTERVIEW WITH SOUTH FRASER VALLEY REGION COMMUNITY HEALTH NURSE MINDI SEKHON THE BCNU WORKERS OF Colour Caucus is one of five BCNU equity-seeking caucuses. It was established to provide a safe space for union members who identify as workers of colour to address the ways in which racialization and systemic discrimination can shape and mark the life and work experiences of union members. Caucus members are actively involved in the life of the union – from regional meetings to steward teams. They meet twice a year to discuss ways of enhancing the role of workers of colour within the union and how best to connect the work the union does to the concerns and needs of the broader community. Caucus members also seek out opportunities to work

with the other human rights caucuses while continuing to serve as a strategic resource to BCNU. BCNU South Fraser Valley region community health nurse and worksite steward Mindi Sekhon spoke recently at a Workers of Colour Caucus on the question of what it means to identify as a worker of colour. Update Magazine sat down Sekhon to find out more. UPDATE What does it mean to be a worker of colour? SEKHON It can be a difficult question when we reflect on what the classification means in terms of personal identity. At a recent BCNU convention my roommate asked if I was going to the Workers of Colour Caucus luncheon. When I indicated I wasn’t, my roommate commented, “You don’t identify as a person of colour, do you?” I was surprised because I’ve never been inclined to attend or participate in an event or practice my craft simply based on my colour. What does my colour have to do with my practice? If there’s someone who needs immediate medical attention I don’t think they would care much what colour or race the doctor or nurse is so long as they are receiving the best possible care. Based on that premise, though

UPDATE MAGAZINE February/March 2014

I may be classified as a worker of colour, I identify myself first as a human being and a health professional. I am originally from Singapore. I joined the health profession at a young age and came to Canada in 1987. Perhaps my initial confusion in addressing the topic of workers of colour is born of the fact that in Singapore there is no such classification. Singapore is a multi-racial society with five national languages. The society celebrates all races and national holidays: Christmas, Chinese New Year, Diwali, and Ramadan. We take pride in blending our cultures and consider ourselves “one” regardless of colour or race. There’s no need to hire interpreters in the hospitals as many, if not all, staff speak multiple languages. There’s no need to be classified as a worker of colour as the society is more concerned about patient care rather than racialization and systemic discrimination. UPDATE Why is do you feel it is important for the union to support the work of the Workers of Colour Caucus? SEKHON Workers of colour are in a unique position. We have a wealth of knowledge and have local and international expertise and insight. I believe I speak for all of us when I say we have compassion, patience and put our patients’ needs in front of our own. We are diverse

individuals but seek the same collective rights in our practice. Diversity is a basic characteristic of human society and is also the key condition for the lively and dynamic world we live in today. As workers of colour we stand as a collective to embrace diversity and continue to educate. A truly multicultural model

is not practiced in all societies. The early history of British Columbia was marked by episodes of exclusion and violent hostility toward those who were seen as different because of their skin colour, culture or ethnicity. These attitudes profoundly shaped the development of nursing and unions in this province. In the late 19th and early 20th century nursing school administrators and union leaders willfully engaged in overt and covert practices of racialized exclusion toward their fellow citizens. As the decades passed, the demands of progressive voices from the institution and public made such acts of institutionalized discrimination far less socially acceptable. This eventually led to changes in law. But this work is ongoing. The BCNU Workers of Colour caucus provides a safe space for multicultural union workers in the community. UPDATE Have you faced any professional challenges because of your ethnicity? SEKHON I experienced my first real challenge in the profession when I returned to work after being a stay-at-home mom for nine years. I got a job working in a group home. However, not long after, I was involved in a major motor vehicle accident. When I finally returned to work,


I was informed by the office coordinator that I would have to demonstrate and prove my ability to perform my duties before she would accept my return, despite the fact that I was cleared by my physician, specialist and physiotherapist. Fearing my job security, I struggled to perform my duties, aiming to do better than others. Later I discovered that she gave me such a hard time because I had questioned her on various ethical issues surrounding her practice, and she wanted the Caucasian nurse who had worked my position while I was on sick leave to take my position. At that point I was determined to leave. It’s disheartening when one experiences discrimination from senior management who are supposed to be mentors and role models. UPDATE What kinds of issues are workers of colour most concerned with today? SEKHON We’re still working to create a society that’s less tolerant of discrimination and unfair practices. Education is the key to eliminating discriminatory practices in the medical profession from administrators and patients. Close to 300,000 new immigrants from all over the world landed in Canada in 2011. We have to ensure there are enough programs to integrate these newcomers to our diverse society and generate understanding of practices and acceptance of multiple cultures. If workers of colour are still experiencing discrimination in one way or other in the profession, then it’s obvious that there’s not enough education, and we need to continue the conversation about how we are going to make that happen. update


T MEET YOUR 2014 BARGAINING COMMITTEE BCNU members representing a range of worksites and nursing specialties were elected to negotiate a new NBA collective agreement. From left to right: Louise Weightman (NHA LPN Rep), Marlene Goertzen (VCHA LPN Rep), Rhonda Croft (community nursing), Jonathan Karmazinuk (FHA LPN Rep), BCNU Executive Director of Negotiations and Strategic Development Gary Fane, BCNU President Debra McPherson, Barry Phillips (Island Health LPN Rep), Michelle Grant (community nursing), Paul Smith (acute care with 200 or fewer members), Margo Wilton (acute care with 701 members or more), Rannoch Campbell (LPN rep), Jo Salken (acute care with 201-700 members), Rachel Kilmer (acute care with 201-700 members) and Liz Ilczaszyn (long-term care).


FIGHTING FOR THE FUTURE OF NURSING The BCNU Provincial Bargaining Strategy Conference held December 3-4 in Vancouver was the culmination of a membership-wide engagement process that began three months earlier, and it was part of an important exercise in union democracy.

he current Nurses’ Bargaining Association provincial collective agreement is a two-year contract that expires March 31, but BCNU is committed to involving the entire membership in the bargaining process well in advance of actual contract negotiations. That means listening to members’ concerns and identifying their priorities in order to help guide the union’s discussions with health authorities and government on ways to improve quality of work life and nursing practice conditions. To that end, all of BCNU’s more than 40,000 members covered by the NBA contract received bargaining surveys in the mail last September asking them to identify the issues that are important to them. This included new LPN members who have moved from the Facilities Bargaining Association contract, and who will be part of NBA negotiations for the first time. Surveys were also sent to members who are covered by the Community Bargaining Association provincial collective agreement, most of whom will also now be part of NBA negotiations. The surveys were followed by a series of regional bargaining conferences held through October and November that saw President Debra McPherson and Executive Director of Negotiations and Strategic Development Gary Fane visit all of BCNU’s 16 member regions and hear first-hand from hundreds nurses about the challenges they are facing today and their hopes for future contract talks. “I truly enjoyed getting to hear the concerns of members from every corner of the province,” says McPherson. “We have an inclusive bargaining process that allows members to work together to reach our bargaining goals and support our common interest.” The over 400 delegates attending the Provincial Bargaining Strategy Conference were elected at their regional bargaining

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conferences. They had now come together to evaluate the bargaining survey results, elect the members to the BCNU provincial bargaining committee and job action committee, and provide the union’s leadership with a mandate to bargain in the year ahead.


Delegates also came to hear reports from the union’s leadership about the implementation challenges with the current NBA contract and unresolved issues arising out of the last set of negotiations. McPherson acknowledged members’ frustration with an employer who refuses to honour all of the terms of the current collective agreement, who is in denial of the new language and who is resisting their new obligations. Whether it be refusal to replace nurses on leaves of absence or vacation, or call in more nurses to meet patient demand in overcapacity situations, McPherson reminded delegates of the powerful new contract rights to address safe staffing and

BCNU members are committed to safe staffing and expect to see the results of their hard-won bargaining gains. DEBRA MCPHERSON

workload issues that were negotiated in the last round bargaining, including contract language that breaks new ground in Canada by giving nurses the right to enforce staffing levels. “That means that BCNU has to fight even harder to enforce the language,” McPherson told delegates. “Many grievances have already been filed and more need to come,” she said, adding that tools are now available to help members build strong effective grievances where employers are failing to comply with the new contract language. “This is crucial not just to ensure BCNU members get the staffing and workload improvements to which they are entitled, but also to position us for future bargaining.” Delegates were reminded that during the last round of negotiations BCNU members said workload and safe staffing were the number one priority bargaining issues. “This time, the employer is already pushing for us to give up the gains we have made,” said McPherson. “In order to hold onto those gains and make improvements, we will need to show that BCNU members are committed to this issue and expect to see the results of their hard won bargaining gains – and that nurses will fight to support this demand in every worksite across the province and at the bargaining table.”

ESTABLISHING PRIORITIES DOTOCRACY Delegates let their stickers do the talking when they chose their top two bargaining priorities.


Conference delegates reviewed the results of the membership-wide bargaining survey compiled by Mustel Group Market Research, whose report also included results of surveys conducted at the 16

regional bargaining conferences. According to the surveys, the most important demands that members felt the union should propose in the next round of bargaining were the establishment of ratios of nurses to patients (safe staffing), enforcement of the new workload language, improved job security and a general wage increase (see pages 22-23 for detailed survey highlights). Delegates took these results into account before participating in a final “dotocracy” exercise that would help the union determine its priority bargaining issues for the year ahead.


The issue of job security has come to the fore since health employers began replacing nurses with care aides last year. Delegates heard from Pacific Rim region activists Kelley Charters and Kris Vanlambalgen who described first-hand how nurses there were fighting Island Health authority’s secretive plan. Dubbed “Care Delivery Model Redesign”, or CDMR, the scheme has been implemented at Nanaimo Regional General Hospital and Island Health plans to do the same at Victoria’s Royal Jubilee Hospital this spring. CDMR is a stark example of how health employers are not living up to the terms of the current NBA collective agreement. Charters and Vanlambalgen described a process that began in 2007 as a collaborative consultation with nurses about appropriate care delivery, and how it cynically morphed into a cost-cutting agenda


PROUD TO BE NURSES Helena Barzilay, Nancy Silzer, Tracy Mailey-Baur and Lori Pearson take break during the two-day conference.

aimed at replacing professional RNs and LPNs with unlicensed care aides. “It was like a bomb went off,” said Vanlambalgen, as she recounted how managers appeared on units at NRGH without warning, pulled nurses from the bedside and informed them that patient ratios were increasing. “Nurses were crying, telling managers they were concerned patients might die,” she said. Charters and Vanlambalgen warned delegates about employer myths and misinformation, such as the lack of qualified nurses or that CDMR would not result in job losses. Charters told of how the union put out a “nurses wanted” poster that resulted in over 40 resumes from qualified nurses looking for work to show that there is no nursing shortage in Nanaimo. She also explained how individual nurses have been severely impacted by changes to full-time equivalent (FTE) positions. “Many nurses are working on units they didn’t choose, they are working schedules

they don’t like, and many are in FTE’s that are less than full-time when they previously had full-time,” said Charters. “Through our Section 54 process there were 158 nurses from seven units who were displaced over a three-day process the employer called a ‘job fair’,” she reported. “It was absolutely devastating to watch colleagues in tears while picking their new lines.” Charters and Vanlambalgen described the increasingly precipitous workloads faced by rushed and overworked nurses doing their best in an understaffed facility where patients are suffering and care providers are stressed. “In Nanaimo our surgical, medical and

telemetry units have 26 less nurses over a 24-hour period,” reported Charters, providing just one example of the deteriorating patient care standards and reduced safety that has become the norm since CDMR began last summer. “It’s a disease we need to stop,” said Vanlambalgen of CDMR. She warned delegates that the cost-cutting scheme will be coming to their own health authorities and affect each and every BCNU member – unless they act to stop it. “We believe there is a cure for CDMR, and that’s – all of us,” said Charters. “Member engagement and public support are critical to stopping the erosion of nursing and safe patient care.” The Vancouver Island delegates’ spirits were bolstered by the red and black clothing worn in solidarity by their fellow members during the conference. Nanaimo nurses began the “wear red” campaign to show employers that nurses are now united in their opposition to CDMR while making nurses clearly identifiable to patients and their families.


The conference saw the election of the provincial bargaining committee. Seven successful candidates were chosen by secret ballot, each representing a specific healthcare sector. Delegates elected fellow members Liz Ilczaszyn (long-term care), Jo Salken and Margo Wilton (acute care with 701 members or more), Rachel

Member engagement and public support are critical to stopping the erosion of nursing and safe patient care. KELLEY CHARTERS

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Kilmer (acute care with 201-700 members), Paul Smith (acute care with 200 or fewer members) and Rhonda Croft and Michelle Grant (community). The elected candidates will be joined by the six LPN reps on BCNU Council, President Debra McPherson and Executive Director of Negotiations and Strategic Development Gary Fane. This group, along with designated union staff coordinators, makes up

“I AM SO PROUD TO BE A PART OF YOU” BCNU President Debra McPherson called on delegates to go back to their workplaces and continue to advocate for the union’s members.

the entire bargaining committee and will be tasked with negotiating a new collective agreement that best reflects the priorities of BCNU members. The provincial bargaining committee held its first meeting February 4-6 and will continue to work on a negotiation strategy that will prepare the union to engage with health employers in the year ahead. The Provincial Bargaining Strategy Conference also saw the election of two


We are 42,000 strong. Now more than ever we should go forward strong and united, one voice for all nurses in this province. DEBRA MCPHERSON

members to the Provincial Job Action Committee. Members Michael Brodie and Jackie Drummond were acclaimed as members-at-large. Additional members put their names forward for the unfilled positions and were elected or acclaimed at BCNU’s January 2014 Council meeting. These include Leanne Robertson-Weeds (long-term care), Cam Ward (acute care), Linda Partington (community) and Tracey Greenberg who replaces Brodie as a member-at-large after the latter stepped down to take a temporary union staff position. This group, along with BCNU executive councillors Marg Dhillon and Deb Ducharme and BCNU Treasurer Mabel Tung, will be responsible for developing, implementing and coordinating local and province-wide job action strategies that will support negotiations and help achieve the union’s bargaining goals.


McPherson concluded the conference by expressing her pride in the ability of the delegates to help bring members’ dreams and goals to fruition. “You are at the core of it and I am so proud to be a part of you,” she said. “But we face some amazing challenges in this year. I have been a nurse for a long time and I have to say that I cannot believe it has come to this.” She spoke about an employer who would rather bully and harass than create a quality work environment that is so needed in our healthcare system today in order to promote quality care. And she warned of a

government that would balance its budget on the backs of frontline nurses and the quality care they deliver to patients. “They are prepared to sacrifice your health and safety and your emotional, physical and spiritual well-being on the altar of a balanced budget and this cannot be tolerated, not now, not ever.” McPherson acknowledged the difficult bargaining climate in the years ahead as well as the need to negotiate a balanced agreement that meets the needs of all BCNU members who, as health professionals, share the same basic values in wanting respect for the work they do and wanting quality workplaces where they can practice the art and science of nursing knowing they are delivering the best possible care to their patients. “Over the next couple of years we are going to have to draw on the strength of those values and that purpose that we articulate for ourselves as nurses,” she said. “We are 42,000 strong. Now more than ever we should go forward strong and united, one voice for all nurses in this province.” McPherson called on delegates to go back to their workplaces and to continue to be strong and fearless advocates for the union’s membership, and to lead with the light of their activism. “At the end of the day it is going to be this nurses’ union, the BC Nurses’ Union and all of its members, I am convinced, who are going to fight the fight to preserve our public healthcare system; who are going to fight the fight for the future of nursing.” update



Carol Canuel Langley Public Health Unit Emma Christison Prince Rupert Regional Hospital



Grace Wong Royal Columbian Hospital


Flu season can be a challenging time of year. Hospitals and healthcare workers already struggling with chronic overcapacity issues are often pushed to their limits under the difficult working conditions the winter flu season invariably brings. For workers like Grace Uppal, this flu season has been especially difficult. From the time the RN starts her shift in the ER at Abbotsford Regional Hospital, until she finishes eight hours later, she’s required to wear a mask. “Technically, I’m not allowed to take it off unless I’m in the break room,” says Uppal. “I have sensitive skin and it’s itchy. I feel like I’m suffocating half the time. I get headaches, have difficulty thinking. I feel like my head is all fogged up. ”




This is the new reality for healthcare workers who have chosen not to be vaccinated this flu season, and it’s the result of a move by British Columbia health authorities to successfully force more than 100,000 public healthcare workers to be vaccinated against influenza, or wear a mask. Uppal says the requirement that she wear a mask has also led to a loss of privacy and stigmatization in the workplace. She’s not alone. Some 7,000 BCNU members have also chosen to forgo the flu shot. Uppal says everyone knows which nurses haven’t been vaccinated and they face scrutiny and judgment for their decision. John Tino works in the ER at Vancouver General Hospital. The RN is frustrated by what he sees as intimidation and lack of respect for his decision to decline the flu shot. “I have never been against immunization,” says Tino, who notes that he has always kept abreast of the scientific literature and that he is in the process of updating his MMR vaccination. “But I have always questioned the efficacy of the flu shot.” “Wearing the mask I am open to ridicule,” he says. “It basically gives others permission to question me on the spot – every time I go to work I have to think of a better way of explaining why I need to wear it.” Tino also reports receiving dirty looks and feeling unfairly targeted by managers after the policy came into effect. “It was awful going to work. I am parttime at .6 FTE and I usually pick up shifts, but I made the decision that during the flu season I would not pick up any extra shifts,” he says. “I just didn’t think it was worth

slipping up, not having a mask on for two seconds, and then have management come down on me.” In addition to these difficulties, Tino is troubled by what he sees as a doublestandard when it comes to the policy’s implementation. “The policy isn’t enforced for visitors – there is a small sign that you can barely read in our hospital entrance, masks are not available to everybody and no one is asking visitors about their vaccination status,” reports Tino. “There’s supposed to be on an honour system for patients and visitors, but that’s not the case for staff.”


C’s influenza control policy is the first of its kind in Canada. Other provinces have tried to encourage healthcare workers to get the flu shot. But none have gone as far as BC in mandating that all who come in contact with patients be vaccinated or masked. This includes visitors, doctors, outside contractors or anyone else who enters a healthcare facility. Yet reports regarding the policy’s inconsistent implementation have cast serious doubts on health employers’ stated objective of reducing

influenza transmission and infection rates to improve patient safety. Health authority officials have also given no indication that they plan to measure the policy’s effectiveness in order to justify its cost. “The seasonal flu shot policy is punitive,” says BCNU President Debra McPherson. “We believe that the requirement that workers wear a mask is simply an attempt to coerce them into getting a flu shot.” While BCNU has long encouraged members to get the shot as the best preventive measure available, McPherson says evidence showing that the vaccine is far from reliably effective undermines employers’ justification for violating employees’ right to use their own clinical judgment about accepting medical interventions. The present policy came into effect December 1. But the policy was first unveiled to unions and the public in August 2012. Developed and promoted by BC’s provincial health officer

Michelle Thomson Surrey Memorial Hospital

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SEASONAL FLU POLICY What you should know • Familiarize yourself with your employer’s flu vaccine policy. Ask your manager if you have questions about how the policy will be applied

and the medical officers from each of the health authorities and adopted at a meeting of health authority CEOs that summer, the original policy required that workers wear stickers showing their vaccination status and encouraged workers to report colleagues who were not in compliance. In the face of strong public protests from BCNU and grievances filed by BCNU and other healthcare unions, the provincial government suspended enforcement of the policy for the 2012-13 flu season pending the outcome of an arbitration ruling. The policy’s suspension followed weeks of intense media activity and scrutiny from international scientific organizations such as the highly respected Cochrane Collaboration which discredited the evidence being used by BC officials to justify the policy. Regardless of the

Wendy Lee Royal Inland Hospital

significant amount of evidence indicating the ineffectiveness of the influenza vaccine, the arbitrator’s December 1, 2013 ruling means healthcare workers now have little choice but to endure the mask if they believe the vaccine is not right for them. “We encourage members to ask for exceptions to the policy if they cannot comply for medical or religious reasons,” says McPherson. “Grievances should be filed if such exceptions are unreasonably denied.” McPherson also says that any member who is disciplined for not taking a flu vaccine should also file a grievance. “We continue to argue that a third option should be available that would include reassignment, vacation or leaves of absence during the flu season.”


s the 2013-2014 flu season comes to a close it’s important to assess how the new mask policy has affected the actual working conditions of healthcare workers who are already dealing with often less-than-ideal practice environments. BCNU has received many complaints about the policy

• If you have a legitimate medical or religious reason for refusing a flu vaccine you should ensure that the particulars are documented on your employee health file before the deadline to provide proof of vaccination. You should also request a workplace accommodation. • If you have an adverse reaction from a flu vaccine, complete an incident report and make a claim for Workers’ compensation. • If you choose not to be vaccinated ensure that you follow any applicable masking requirements. If you have a bona fide reason why you cannot wear a mask or wearing a mask will interfere with the performance of your work duties, ensure that you report this to your manager as soon as possible and request a workplace accommodation. • If you have a concern about occupational exposure to biological agents, use personal protective equipment ie: N95 respirator. File a grievance if you have any problems in this regard. • Take other precautions to prevent influenza including washing your hands and staying home if you are experiencing flu symptoms. •C onduct a point-of-care risk assessment prior to patient interaction in order to identify the potential for violence created by wearing a mask. Stop if a task is unsafe and speak to your manager. Use you right to refuse if it is unresolved. If you think the policy is being applied arbitrarily or unfairly, contact your steward.




and the masks, but the number of calls has been declining since the New Year. The complaints range from increased asthma symptoms, feelings of claustrophobia, difficulty thinking, soreness behind the ears and an inability to clearly communicate with patients – especially children and psychiatric patients – who can be intimidated by the masks. “Wearing a mask on my unit makes it very difficult to establish a trusting relationship with my patients because they cannot see my face,” says Abbotsford Regional Hospital pediatric RN Joanne Hamburg. “A child is already frightened by the hospital experience. Not being able to see a care giver’s face just compounds that fear.” Nurses also say enforcement of the policy has been hit-and-miss and often causes confusion and stress. One nurse was told by a manager she needed to keep her mask on, even while in a coffee shop in the facility’s lobby. In a Fraser Health Authority hospital, it was reported that the chief medical officer showed up in the maternity ward and ER with an iPad that had a list of unvaccinated workers and he checked that each nurse was wearing a mask appropriately. Some patient care coordinators have been asked to police their fellow nurses’ compliance. Abbotsford Regional Hospital RN and PCC Katherine Hamilton filed a grievance over breach of confidentiality after she was given a list of unvaccinated nurses and told to send them home without pay if they didn’t comply with the policy. “The policy has been handled poorly with

little to no information for the public, disrespect of the staff and our rights, and it has people looking elsewhere for employment as the thought of masking four months out of every year is daunting at best,” explains Hamilton. The seasonal flu policy should also raise questions about the wisdom of health employers’ continued “attendance management” efforts that result in workers reporting to work sick, counter to the stated infection control objectives of the flu policy.


t’s one thing for an employer to impose a policy with questionable scientific validity, but something else for it to demand that its decisions cannot be questioned or criticized. This is exactly what happened to a group of nurses who work in the ER at Vancouver General Hospital. Last summer they

produced two leaflets outlining their concerns about the compulsory aspect of the policy and the lack of credible evidence to show that vaccinating healthcare workers has any measurable impact on the health outcomes of immunecompromised patients in their care. Soon after, managers informed them that they were prohibited from distributing materials in staff lounges and bulletin boards or identifying themselves as VGH nurses. The order even included a ban on the distribution of a peer-reviewed article published in the British Medical Journal. The nurses grieved the employer’s restrictions and won. At a recent step two meeting Vancouver Coastal Health Authority informed the group that it was dropping the previous restrictions. Tracey Visser has worked in the ER at VGH for the past 21 years. She was one of the eight nurses who grieved Vancouver Coastal Health’s censorship. “I am very pleased with

Ellen Christison Bulkley Valley District Hospital

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the outcome,” she says. “It just seemed very paternalistic on the employer’s part. Just because you have a policy in place doesn’t mean you can’t have a debate about it or hold an alternative or opposing view.” Visser hopes that the win will allow for a more open dialogue in the months and years ahead. “People do need to make an informed choice,” she says. “We never had a problem with the flu shot per se or people getting it – it was the mandatory aspect of the policy that set us off and we felt that as Canadians we have a right to choose when it comes to our health.” update

Debbie Klatt Port Hardy Hospital

Kris Vanlambalgen Nanaimo Regional General Hospital

JUDGING BY MEDIA REPORTING THIS flu season, Canadians appear to have landed in a brave new world where there exists total agreement on the urgent need for annual vaccinations to prevent widespread flu death. Stories no longer mention the lack of scientific evidence of the vaccine’s efficacy or its rather modest protection as valid reasons for choosing not to get a shot. Rather, they focus on dramatizing the frightening risks of hospitalization and death from influenza, while editorial commentary – from the likes of the CBC’s Rick Mercer to the Globe and Mail and most recently Mike Smyth writing for the Province – chastises healthcare workers and their leaders for not advocating a mass flu vaccination policy. An evidence base for sound public policy suddenly appears to be a relic of the past. It’s hard to believe that just over a year ago the prestigious Centre for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP) concluded that “current influenza vaccine protection is substantially lower than for most routinely recommended vaccines and is suboptimal.” Or that it pointed to the over-selling of current vaccines as a real barrier to developing a truly effective, universal flu vaccine. It appears that overstating the benefits of annual vaccination is now the stock-in-trade of public health officials, who appear to be following the US Centre for Disease Control recipe for spooking people into getting a shot. The essential ingredient of this recipe requires medical experts and public health authorities to constantly state concern and alarm (and predict dire outcomes), stressing flu severity and the vulnerability of children, families and the elderly. Dramatizing the risk of dying from seasonal flu is also a key element in engineering a media consensus about the urgency

of flu vaccination. The reported risks are based on the Public Health Agency of Canada’s often repeated figure of 4,000 - 8,000 flu deaths annually. It’s rarely reported that this figure is a computer estimate, or that Statistics Canada actual figures only account for 300 influenza deaths a year between 2000 and 2008. Overstating risks to vulnerable populations has dovetailed with British Columbia’s flu vaccination-or-mask policy for healthcare workers and hospital visitors. And an arbitrator’s decision upholding this public health policy as reasonable has now removed nurses’ and other workers’ right to choose. Many are now opting for vaccination in greater numbers to avoid wearing masks. Uncritical acceptance of unscientific guessing about risk of death has added moral indignation to the media lecturing of those healthcare leaders who do not become mandatory flu shot proponents. The Province’s Mike Smyth recently quoted Liberal MLA Moira Stilwell as saying BCNU and other unions “provided ammunition for groups pushing an anti-vaccine agenda.” Smyth himself blamed healthcare workers for “fanning anti-vaccination hysteria” – conveniently ignoring the fact that BCNU has always promoted vaccination and encourages its members to get the flu shot. We are witness to the triumph of public relations over evidence-based decision making in public health. All those highminded media voices are actually siding with policy makers who are making faith-based decisions while appearing to ignore their obligation to base policy on evidence.




WHO’S YOUR BENEFICARY? NEW RULES OFFER MORE CONTROL OVER WHAT HAPPENS TO YOUR PENSION ENTITLEMENT IN THE EVENT OF DEATH A PENSION CAN BE A valuable and important benefit for those left behind in the event of your death. Now you will have more options to protect your family, leave a legacy to your community and customize your estate planning the way you want. New Municipal Pension Plan rules coming into force on March 31, 2014 will affect who you can nominate as your beneficiary for pension purposes and how you can make that nomination. These changes will expand the number of options available to you but you are not required to do anything—your existing nominations will remain valid. A pension plan member’s spouse is automatically their beneficiary unless their spouse waived their rights to any pension benefits. This means your ability to nominate beneficiaries may be limited. As of March 31, 2014, you may be able to:


• name multiple and/or alternate beneficiaries to receive your pension benefit in the event of your death, • provide different shares to those beneficiaries, • nominate a society or other organization as a beneficiary, • name beneficiaries for your Municipal Pension Plan benefits in your will, and • name a trustee to act for beneficiaries who are minors or otherwise unable to represent themselves. If you are retiring and are about to select your pension option, you should complete and submit the new Nomination of Beneficiary (at Retirement) form. The new publication Protecting your Pension Benefit: A Guide for Nominating Beneficiaries when Retiring will help you understand the options that may be available to you. This guide is aimed to assist those pension plan members who are complet-

ing a Nomination of Beneficiary (at Retirement) form and plan to retire on or after April 1, 2014. Active pension plan members will have access to the new Nomination of Beneficiary form once the new rules come into force on March 31, 2014. A separate guide for pre-retirement members will also be available at that point in time. If you wish to confirm your current beneficiary nomination, you can check your Member’s Benefit Statement or log on to My Account at mpp. OR to view your most recent statement or personal information screen. More flexibility and control over what happens to your pension entitlement in the event of their death is a good thing, but it’s also important to consult a financial advisor and/or lawyer in order to help determine the option that is best for you. update

A new tool makes it easier for you to research your buy back option when coming back from a leave of absence or non-contributory period when you were not contributing to your pension. The new Personalized Purchase Cost Estimator on the Municipal and Public Service Pension Plan My Account web page is an easy way to generate an estimate of your cost to purchase missed contributions. Log on to My Account at or and try it today.

REMEMBER: The deadline for purchase of the 2013 leave of absences at today’s pension rate is March 31, 2014

UPDATE MAGAZINE February/March 2014





KEEPING NURSES AND PATIENTS SAFE Victoria steward Cynthia Reid is helping Royal Jubilee Hospital OR nurses use the PRF process to improve working conditions and protect their practice.

VICTORIA’S ROYAL JUBILEE Hospital is known as a “heart health centre of excellence”. The facility has one of the busiest cardiac units in the province, serving all of BC. And its “no refusal” policy means patients on the mainland receive surgery at RJH if Metro Vancouver hospitals are full. The busy conditions at RJH have led nurses working in the cardiac unit to raise many practice concerns in recent years. Unacceptably long scrub times have been a persistent problem.

Surgical cardiac nurses in the OR work eight-hour shifts. They are specially trained and cannot be easily relieved by a circulating nurse, and they were missing breaks as a result. “We filed our first grievance for a long scrub time in August 2010,” says RJH occupational health and safety and contract steward Cynthia Reid, who notes that since then, 11 more grievances have been filed for missed rest periods, meal breaks and long scrub periods. “It’s common practice for

these nurses to work their call periods with no breaks,” explains Reid. “They don’t take them and the employer doesn’t offer them – so it’s a safety risk to the nurse, to the patient and to every member of the team.” Reid says the issue remained unresolved. The RN believes the problem could be fixed by adding one more nurse on call, but says that’s something RJH management had been unwilling to consider. Reid then suggested to three nurses on the unit’s open heart team that the professional responsibility form process might be a useful strategy to address their issues in addition to pursuing grievances. The group agreed and began raising their practice concerns with managers, and filing a PRF to document how the issue of long scrub times was related to reduced safety and increased risk, along with other safety and practice concerns resulting from working in a busy OR. The nurses researched practice standards in other jurisdictions when preparing their recommendations for management. “We did our homework and researched staffing numbers from cardiac units across Canada,” says Reid. “Units in Calgary, Halifax, Ottawa, Winnipeg and Toronto have three nurses on call, and St. Paul’s and Vancouver General Hospital operate with two.” Reid says preparing the PRF also helped the nurses




become aware of the risks they were exposed to while working at RJH. “We talked to nurses who said they wouldn’t work at RJH. It made us realize how easy it is to normalize the abnormal and accept less-thanideal practice conditions.” Safe staffing has always been the ultimate goal, says Reid. “We want two nurses on call for afterhours, weekends and nights so people would be safe, and if nurses need a nutrition break or a rest period to meet their basic needs of life, they can spare each other off.” “This is about nurses being unable to meet their standards, not being able to meet their basic needs of life and dealing with expectations from an employer who should exercise its due diligence and provide breaks.” The process is ongoing and the group has continued to meet with RJH managers since the PRF was referred to the Senior Review Committee (SRC) stage last year. At a meeting in January the parties agreed to develop a comprehensive written protocol for staff and management to address meal breaks and rest periods when on call, the process of calling in relief, the designated time to call in regular day or on-call staff and a contingency plan when two heart rooms are operating. “This PRF could be precedentsetting for heart health centres that under-staffed,” says Reid. “If we resolve this successfully I will share it with other open heart units, and then hopefully we will have made a difference and helped keep patients safe.” update

MAKING PRF COMMITTEES WORK NEW TERMS OF REFERENCE AND GUIDING PRINCIPLES MAKE IT EASIER TO GET YOUR PRF COMMITTEE UP AND RUNNING CHANGES TO ARTICLE 59 IN THE Nurses’ Bargaining Association (NBA) collective agreement have resulted in increased responsibility for the PRF Committee participants and a much shorter timeline to implement agreedupon actions. A PRF committee still needs to be established with each employer, but mutually agreed to terms of reference (TORs) and guiding principles have been negotiated to assist you in getting your PRF Committee up and running. Reviewing these changes is the first step in making your committee work. Meetings of the PRF Committee need to be held within 14 days of the employer receiving a PRF. The composition of the PRF Committee hasn’t changed. There are two standing committee members or co-chairs - one appointed by the NBA and one appointed by the Employer. The co-chairs have many responsibilities including preparing and circulating the meeting agenda, ensuring the excluded manager and/or the nurse(s) bring relevant documentation and data to support the concerns being addressed, and making sure parties adhere to the guiding principles. The ad hoc committee members include the nurse(s) with the concern, union steward, excluded manager,

immediate supervisor (e.g.: CNL, DC2 etc.) and additional participants such as health authority directors or executive directors who are key decisionmakers and can help move the concerns to an effective resolution. As before, every PRF author is responsible and accountable to present their PRF at the committee level (it’s not the steward’s role), propose creative solutions, give feedback on the manager’s suggestions and agree to a final action plan. What’s new is that the PRF committee has only 30 days following the meeting to attempt to resolve the identified concerns and implement agreed upon actions. The committee must also submit a final comprehensive report to the nurse(s) and the union identifying what has been achieved and/or not achieved during that period along with supporting data and documentation. This means it’s important that the PRF committee prepare a clear action plan specifying what, when and how each individual will work to implement the actions as well as monitor the progress of the plan within the 30-day period. It also means that a thorough review of what’s outstanding must occur with the nurse(s) if a resolution is not possible. update

Elections for President • Vice President • Treasurer • Executive Councillors • Regional Executive

MARCH 10-31




Candidate profiles and voting information available ONLINE

• Gayle Duteil • Michelle Martinson • Debra McPherson • Petra St. Pierre

VICE PRESIDENT • Sharon Sharp • Christine Sorensen

OR BY PHONE 1-855-564-7388 VOTE ONLINE Make your voice count by voting in the BCNU election for president and vice president, treasurer, executive councillor (pensions) and executive councillor (health and safety). You can also elect the individuals who make up your regional executive, including the chairperson – or co-chairs – who represents your region on BCNU’s Provincial Council. Use your personal computer or mobile device to visit the BCNU website and log in to the secure voting portal any time between 9 am on March 10 to noon on March 31. Alternatively, you may vote by phone by calling 855-564-7388. The call is toll free from anywhere in Canada, US, and Puerto Rico.

BCNU ELECTION HOTLINE (1-800-894-3311) BCNU’S election hotline is available to help you resolve any problems with the voting system. The hotline number — 1-800-894-3311 — will be available 9:00AM – 5:00PM Monday to Friday during the March 10-31 voting period.

TREASURER • M abel Tung (Elected by Acclamation)


• Margaret Dhillon • Will Offley • Janet J. Van Doorn • Margo Wilton


• Deb Ducharme • Howard Searle


Michelle Martinson

•E ndless Payroll / Scheduling errors. • Seniors left alone at home, to their own means. I have been a Steward, Senior Director, and currently a member of BCNU, associated for over thirty years with our Union. I am an experienced leader, very knowledgeable of BCNU, with frontline skills required to guide BCNU to strong contracts, great successes and most importantly, change! Background A critical care nurse since 1983, I became active as a steward during the 1989 strike. My passion for nurses’ issues led me to accept the opportunity to work as an LRO for our Union. Sixteen years later, I left as BCNU’s Executive Director, Operations. Passionate about advocacy and nursing, I returned to my roots and the bedside in 2010, accepting an Acute/ Emergency position at our rural hospital. This experience has catapulted me to undertake this journey and has brought me in touch with the issues: • Twelve hour Emergency night shifts with overflow patients and limited support. • Understaffed Acute Care nursing shifts with unmanageable workloads, despite new contract language and longer work hours. • Desperate shortage of Community / Homecare resources.

•R egistered Nurse • Patient Care Coordinator • Harvard School of Negotiations • Canadian Human Resource Professional ( CHRP ) Objectives 1) Workable, negotiated contracts with an emphasis on reliable safe staffing, compensatory wages and nurses well being. 2) Timely, transparent, accountable leadership with fair politics. 3) Restructure Council, leading to a more fiscally responsible, well organized Board. 4) R edirect resources back to our membership. 5) Establish fair and equitable voting representatives in each Health Authority, for all members. 6) Workabouts...not walkabouts!

Background & Objectives I am a passionate, honest and energetic Registered Nurse and union activist since 2007, working as a Seniors Outreach nurse and Chair of the Aboriginal Leadership Circle. I am also a worksite Shop Steward that has recently completed an Executive Master of Business Administration Degree. I will be seeking to foster a strong, respectful and transparent, grassroots organization. I aim to create, maintain and rebuild relationships with the labour movement and other nursing organizations. We must all stand together to support safe patient care that allows nurses to meet their standards of practice. The quality of our member’s lives has certainly been compromised by our latest contract and we need to address that promptly. Once we give things up, it’s very difficult to get back.

It’s time for change! Time to be creative and move forward in a positive way with a leader that welcomes differences of opinion and promotes fairness and equality. I believe in being accountable to the members and I will be looking at how we have been spending our union funds up to this point, to explore how we might reallocate funds to directly benefit and support our members. I will be looking to promote leadership within our membership and to offer opportunities for education. Most of all, I will listen and take direction from the membership. I am here to serve each and every one of you. This is our union! Let’s make it the best it can be. Vote for me in 2014.


Background Proud to be a nurse and BCNU member, totally committed throughout my career to excellence in our profession and advocacy for nurses. Recognized as a visionary leader, strong articulate advocate for nurses, someone who delivers in good times and in bad (Vancouver Sun, BC’s Top 100 Women of Influence, 2010). Extensive leadership experience including: • President of BCNU 2000 to present • Recipient of CFNU Bread and Roses Award for outstanding leadership • Executive MBA in Health Care 2010-UBC Objectives 1) Negotiations in 2014 must include job security for nurses. Employers must not be allowed to replace nurses with care aides, placing nurses and their patients in jeopardy. This will require a province wide continuation

of the public campaign we have begun on Vancouver Island against the change to the care delivery model (CDMR), and highlights the value of nurses’ work. Community nurses’ work must be protected from contracting out. 2) Build on the strong language we negotiated in the last contract for safe staffing levels for all nurses through negotiation, arbitration and campaigns. The employer must be held accountable for implementation of a contract that was freely negotiated. 3) Continue to defend our public healthcare system through positive nursing strategies including initiatives to achieve a national mental health and seniors care strategy, as well as our ongoing litigation. 4) Support our strong, united membership to withstand harsh employer and government union busting tactics, bullying and harassment; through innovative steward education and member outreach, and high quality representation by staff. For more visit:

Petra St. Pierre

Background • Diploma in Nursing, Edmonton (1989), BScN 2010 • Steward, BC Cancer Agency (2003 – 2008) • BCNU Member Educator (2006 – 2008) • CVR Secretary (2004-2008) • Facilitator at first Young Nurses Conference (2006) • BCNU Staff Member, LRO (2008-2013) • BCNU Staff Union President, Unifor 888 (2011-2013) • Member of BC Fed’s Human Rights & Diversity Caucus (2011-2013) • President of Westcoast Family Resources Society (2008-2011) • RN on VGH’s Bone Marrow Transplant Unit Objectives The union’s leadership is out of touch with members’ needs. The only way to change the direction of the BCNU is to change the leadership. As your President, my clear objectives will be to:

1) R enegotiate the decision to commit members to a 37.5hour workweek; 2) Ensure that the significant loss of Pharmacare benefits is addressed for ALL members; 3) Improve the collective agreement language to guarantee the agreed upon increase of 2125 FTE hours over the next 4 years. 4) Improve the collective agreement language to guarantee staff replacement that maintains baseline levels. 5) Stop the displacement of RNs and LPNs; 6) Address LPN needs by merging provisions of the collective agreements covering both RNs and LPNs; 7) Re-establish member participation and engagement by listening and responding to members concerns; 8) Commit to open, accurate and transparent communication with members to ensure that everyone is aware of what is being negotiated; 9) Rebuild and strengthen relationships with key progressive organizations in the community.



Christine Sorensen

Background I have worked as a nurse for 30 years. I began as an LPN in Manitoba then worked as an RPN, and now I’m an RN at Surrey Memorial Hospital. I was elected as a steward In 2000 and was proud to hold this role. I have a vast range of experience in numerous activities including grievance handling, union / management committee, many campaigns, walkabouts and ongoing member advocacy. •O H&S steward 2001 - 2007 • JOSH member and co-chair 2001 - 2007 • SFR Executive Communications 2003 - 2005 • Member Educator 2002 - 2007

Objectives I believe unions are incredibly important and they should be member driven. The membership is our greatest asset and should be our first priority. I want a union that is democratic, open, and transparent; a union that educates and informs members of the Impact of a new contract prior to ratification vote. Members would know the Impact of a 37.5 hr week before being asked to accept it. I want a union that is Inclusive, encourages participation, and eliminates barriers. Every member would have the opportunity to attend membership meetings and contribute to decisions. I want a union that develops new leaders using term limits; a union that advocates strongly for the public healthcare system. But I can’t do It alone. I’m running for vice president to foster change In BCNU. Together with Will Offley and Howard Searle we share a common goal for the union. Join us. Vote.

Background A union member since 1989, it has been a privilege to represent you as the Vice President, TNO Regional Chairperson, Provincial Lobby Coordinator, Bargaining Committee representative, BC Public Service Pension Plan Trustee, Retiree Benefit Program representative, Steward Coordinator and PRF Advocate. As a registered nurse, I have enjoyed a varied career in acute and community healthcare, in both rural and urban sites. As the current BCNU Vice President, I seek opportunities that challenge me and allow me to use my excellent communication, advocacy and organizational skills. I have provided strong leadership while fostering teamwork, empowering others and encouraging new ideas. I value the opinions of our members and I am committed to building a positive, inclusive culture and a sense of unity.

Objectives As your Vice President, I will: • Be accessible and responsive to our members • Protect the rights of our members by working towards a fully merged collective agreement • Ensure enforcement of the collective agreement and protection of our health benefits • Develop strong relationships with healthcare decision makers • Provide leadership and mentor members engaged in BCNU activities • Encourage integration and cultural competency across BCNU • Advocate to protect our public healthcare system I understand the need for sound governance and will act honestly, be responsible for the decisions made by Council and be loyal to our members. I am committed to bringing energy and creativity to the BCNU. I look forward to representing you as your Vice President.


Background I am seeking to represent BCNU members as Executive Councillor, Health and Safety. As your current Executive Councillor, I bring to the role my background as an experienced acute care Registered Nurse at VGH and longtime union activist. My various BCNU experiences include: • Steward-Health and Safety, Grievance • CVR Co-Chair •E lected Bargaining Committee member 2004, 2006 • Member of Provincial Executive •C hair numerous Provincial committees including LEAP, Provincial Violence Prevention, Health and Safety •B CNU lead for member support funds-Bursary, Training, Prevention and Assistance, New Nurse

Objectives My priority when re-elected Healthy Change - both at BCNU and for our members. My focus includes: • Addressing union transparency and process concerns • Maintaining an expanded BCNU Health and Safety department- allowing for increased steward/member support • Improving BCNU education programs • Working through existing committees to address ongoing issues- standardizing violence education, completing worksite risk assessments, enforcing WorkSafeBC regulations • Promoting health and safety bargaining priorities • Raising member’s awareness of safety issues • Working provincially and locally to address issues with employers programsFlu Policy, Attendance Management • Achieving a fully implemented, supportive Enhanced Disability Management Program My previous Provincial and Regional experience equips me for the leadership demands of this position. As well as working to achieve healthier, safer workplaces, I commit to pursue members overarching goals- improvements to union processes and re-affirming our mandate for a democratic, inclusive BCNU. I promise to bring my commitment and passion to this role if re-elected.

Will Offley

Background BCNU steward 2001-2007; 2013-present BCNU delegate to Vancouver and District Labour Council, 2001-2007 Member, Vancouver General Hospital emergency department OH&S committee, 20072011, 2013-present IWA job steward, New Westminster, 1979-1990 IWA health and safety committee member, 1980-1990 Objectives BCNU needs a new direction, and a new leadership. I am running for the BCNU executive together on a slate with Sharon Sharp and Howard Searle. We share common concerns, starting with the current contract. • Pharmacare Tie-in has saddled many of our members with significant, unexpected

increases in medication expenses • Longer 37.5 hour workweek and new rotations have disrupted many of our members’ lives, especially part-timers • Instead of the 2,125 new FTE’s we were promised, the health authorities are looking to replace RN’s and LPN’s with care aides • We are still overworked, understaffed and overstressed I believe that our leadership as a whole is tired, entitled, and long overdue for renewal. BCNU members deserve better - we need to rediscover our roots as a member-driven, grassroots, democratic union. To do this, I commit to bringing back term limits (the Sunset Clause), to limiting executive salaries to what one would make working as a nurse, and to turning our union into one controlled by, and run by, its members. My full election platform is online at: I encourage you to read it, to get involved and to VOTE FOR CHANGE!



Background Yelling. Hitting. Bruises. Injury. This should not be the face of nursing. Safety, prevention, and anti-violence must be priorities in healthcare. A nurse with more than 30+ years professional nursing, I’m dedicated to making ongoing improvements to health and safety. An active, practising bedside nurse, I’ve experienced firsthand the devastating impact of violence. As a previous long-time CLPNBC representative; worksite safety committee member; Code White team member; and recent BCNU LPN Regional Representative, I’m skilled in investigating and responding to OH&S incidents. Previous participation in my worksite Professional Practice Committee required working with leadership to solve issues and prevent ongoing problems. Supporting nurses is my priority and my passion. Advocating for the best health and safety provisions for every

work area is my goal. My hands on, personal approach as a Regional Representative gives me the knowledge, experience, and understanding directly from nurses about what’s needed in OH&S. Meeting many nurses and hearing their stories led me to work with skilled BCNU disability and Professional Practice advocates, who also assisted me to learn about and be part of the Disability Management and LEAP processes. Working hard is necessary and part of who I am. I received the CLPNBC 2012 “Excellence in Lifetime” Achievement Award. Objectives • Compassion. Diligence. Commitment. Caring. Heart. • Active, visible, and available advocate—responsive to nurses at the worksite • Improve OH & S education opportunities for all nurses • Advance continued OH & S and Violence Prevention contract language improvements

Margo Wilton

Background As a BCNU activist for 16 years, I am passionate about caring for Nurses and allied members. I have worked diligently, energetically, and compassionately to protect our rights to a safe and healthy workplace. Provincially, regionally and locally, I have fought to uphold the Collective Agreements, ensured Regulations are adhered to, and advocated for safer staffing levels so that we can maintain our standards, provide quality care and remain healthy and safe. Extensive leadership experience includes: • Co-Chair South Islands Region (2010-present) • Regional Executive Member (OH&S 2004-2007 Steward Liaison 2007-2009) • BCNU Steward (since 1998) • 2014 NBA Bargaining Team Member

Objectives Workplace issues such as workload, over capacity, unsafe staffing levels, care delivery redesigns, uncaring Employers, and many others impact our ability to have a safe and healthy workplace. Violence in the workplace is rampant, particularly in Mental Health. Our health and welfare benefits continue to be attacked by our Governments. Public Healthcare is at risk. I am committed to: • Defending the fundamental health and safety rights of RNs, RPNs, LPNs and all members for a safe, respectful workplace. • Addressing violence in the workplace by supporting current BCNU endeavors, lobbying and campaigning for stronger, better regulations, supports, education and safer staffing levels. • Obtaining the maximum benefits possible. Exploring creative ways to sustain and protect benefits from Government attack. • Upholding Respectful Workplace Language. • Fighting to keep our Public Heath Care intact and available to all. • Advocating for and supporting BCNU Stewards in their OH&S work.


Howard Searle

Background It has been a privilege to represent BCNU members since 1993. The experience of 21 years as a Steward, 5 years as a Regional Treasurer, 7 years as a Regional Chair and 4 years as the Provincial Executive Councillor – Pensions has provided me with the education, stewardship, advocacy and confidence to represent members at a provincial level. As Executive Councillor – Pensions, I have completed all 4 levels of the Advance Trustee Management Series and multiple other courses on governance, investment and pension benefits in order to bring a strong, educated voice to current issues around pensions.

Objectives As Executive Councillor – Pensions, I will: • Keep pensions a priority and be a strong, educated voice in representing members on pension issues • Facilitate pension workshops/education to members across the province so they can make career choices with a good understanding of the impact those choices will have on their pension • Provide leadership and mentor members interested in increasing their involvement and knowledge of pension issues • Be an active member of the provincial executive and council and work with enthusiasm on all duties assigned to the position • Promote and support all BCNU members to be actively engaged in BCNU initiatives and opportunities • Support/encourage initiatives that will integrate cultural competency in all activities throughout BCNU • Bring an enthusiastic and positive voice and energy to all activities that promote safe staffing and safe patient care • Work hard to ensure successful contract negotiations with a fully merged collective agreement for all members

Navy’s Advanced Leadership Qualification courses.

Background Currently a Registered Nurse at Abbotsford Regional Hospital’s Cardiac Care Unit, I have 22 years full-time acute nursing experience. My leadership experiences include: • BCNU Provincial Men in Nursing Chair (2012-14) • Fraser Valley Regional OH&S Chair (2012-14) • CM Regional Communications & Education Chair (2005-09) • Lions Gate Hospital OH&S+Contract Steward / Coordinator (94-05) • CM Regional OH&S Chair (1997 - 2003) • RNABC President; PresidentElect; Director (1997-2005) • Canadian Nurses’ Association Board, Ottawa (2003-5)

Objectives A leader’s vision must be congruent with members’ expectations. Disappointment with the recent contract suggests this is problematic. Unhappy with your rotation change, or Pharmacare? A new contract should never bring grief or nightmares. You have good reasons to elect an all-new Executive Committee, BCNU’s guidance system, including the Member-Driven Union slate which my peers Sharon Sharp, Will Offley and I propose. I pledge to consult YOU before embarking upon change, to make YOUR collective needs OUR goals. I’ll protect our pension plan with YOU in mind. I’ll be frugal with YOUR union dues. I’ll lobby for federal pension improvements, and a strengthened Canada Health Act, to build national pride. YOUR vote counts! Use it to build a better BCN-YOU. YOUR member-driven union should be all about YOU, and should responsively put YOUR collective needs at centre stage! You’re invited to visit our website at: for more inspiration!

I have completed CLC’s Pension Investment & Governance courses, six Canadian Institute of Financial Planning courses, and the Royal Canadian


TREASURER Elected by Acclamation Mabel Tung

Various leadership roles in these organizations have included President, Secretary, Treasurer.

Background • Acute Medical Unit RN, VGH; Vancouver since 1981. • Executive Master of Business Administration in Health Care at Sauder School of Business, UBC; 2009. • Regional Treasurer, 1998 - 2003. • Provincial Treasurer, 2003 - Present. • Provincial Job Action Chair since 2003. • Human Rights and Equity Committee Chair since 2006. • International Educated Nurses Initiatives Group Chair since 2008. • Democracy in the Union Committee Chair since 2006. • Active in the community and volunteers at several local community organizations including the Civic Education Society, Richmond Chinese Community Society, S.U.C.C.E.S.S. (United Chinese Community Enrichment Services Society).

Objectives I will continue to ensure that BCNU has open and transparent financial processes so that our members understand the Union’s finances. I will continue to ensure that the BCNU program evaluation safeguards the effective use of membership dues. I will use my knowledge and experience in Finance and Administration to assist the membership in understanding BCNU finances. I will use my knowledge and experience from my community involvement to continue to lobby politicians to advance members’ issues and assist members in developing these skills themselves. I will continue to encourage the participation of members who have not traditionally been involved with Union activities. Leading by example, I will demonstrate to the membership that leadership positions within the Union are accessible to all. I look forward to having the opportunity and challenge of being your Provincial Treasurer.

BCNU REGIONAL ELECTIONS It’s also time for BCNU members to elect candidates for their regional executive committee. This year’s election marks the first time that members in all of BCNU’s 16 regions will be voting for their regional executives using a centralized, voting website. There are seven regional executive positions up for election: chair (or co-chair), lobby coordinator, OH&S representative, treasurer, communications/secretary, PRF advocate and steward liaison. BCNU members in every region have been mailed information about their local candidates and voting procedures. Voting will take place March 10–31, alongside elections for the BCNU provincial executive committee. If you have any questions about elections in your region, please feel free to contact your local regional nominations chair. Contact information is below. REGIONAL NOMINATIONS COMMITTEE CHAIR Name Email


Menchie Rosales


Debra Bond


Doug Tedrick


Coralee Lord


Laura Baker


Suzanne Johnson


Vincent Manfre


Cindy Webster


Frances Beswick


Susan Shylock SF Catherine Clutchey SFV Erin Hay SH

Darcie Williams


Maggie Tomich


Nancy Szeto


Pat Zorn



UPDATE MAGAZINE February/March 2014


The Planning Document The Planning Context The Planning Context section provides a ‘snapshot’ description – or an ‘environmental scan’ – of the organization. A process called the ‘SWOC’ (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Challenges) Analysis was used to situate the organization within the current strategic planning process by identifying internal strengths and weaknesses, and external opportunities and challenges. The outcome of this process was the articulation of the organization’s current state of affairs. In 2011, the Balanced Scorecard Perspective was introduced to determine how the Objectives defined by the organization measured up in four areas – Financial, Members, Union Processes and Learning and Growth. As well, emphasis was placed on establishing measurable outcomes (i.e. what would demonstrate that success was reached) and measures (how could that evaluation be made). In both 2012 and 2013, significant resources were placed on two priorities: 1) Collective Bargaining and 2) the LPN initiative. A positive outcome for both priorities was achieved. Bargaining resulted in gains in workload language and in increases to nursing FTE’s. The Health Authorities, however,

have not held up their part of the bargain which has meant BCNU has had to devote resources to ensuring gains are being implemented. This has resulted in a number of “hot spot” campaigns directed in locations where pressure is needed to push the government to “keep the promise.” As well, the Pharmacare Tie-in resulted in a tremendous volume of calls from members and BCNU continues to push the government to resolve this issue. Growth of our union continues to be a major initiative. With the enactment of Bill 18, and the subsequent ruling of the Labour Relations Board, several facilities have been subjected to a transfer to other unions and/or a re-vote to remain in BCNU. We are confident that these facilities will end up back in the BCNU fold and efforts are on-going to ensure this end result. 2014 sees BCNU back at the bargaining table. This year’s Operations Calendar/Plan reflects that. Additionally, there is a strong focus on member engagement and steward recruitment, education and retention reflecting discussions at the annual Planning Session, brought forward by BCNU Committees on Steward Recruitment and Retention, and Member Engagement.

42 Vision An organization’s vision is a short, inspirational and futurefocused statement of where the organization sees itself in the future. The statement must reflect an ideal based on what is realistically achievable and typically reflects a 5–10 year time frame.

more culturally diverse population. To succeed, we must not only adapt; we must anticipate, learn, innovate, communicate and regularly tend to the relationships that are at the heart of our success.


The British Columbia healthcare workplace is increasingly characterized by changing work roles, new models of care delivery, and a decrease in nursing jobs. At the same time, the healthcare workforce is aging, and demographic trends indicate that even with significant reliance on internationally educated professionals, we will be increasingly challenged to retain an appropriately trained and equipped workforce. For BCNU to survive, thrive, and excel at representing the interests of its members and their communities, it must ensure that it not only includes an increasingly diverse membership, but that it engages, educates and serves them. To do so requires a larger membership and a more engaged membership, both of which will also contribute to Strategic Directions 2 and 3 by strengthening our collective voice. Changes in licensure in BC health professions have created a gap in support for professional practice maintenance and enhancement. This gap represents a continuing opportunity for BCNU to expand its services and appeal not only to our members but to other colleagues in the healthcare workforce through organized drives and campaigns.

The mission statement reflects the current mandate of the organization.

Values The organizations’ values – and corresponding statements – provide members, staff and Council with behavioural descriptions of how the organization’s core values may be lived within the BCNU.

Strategic Directions The strategic directions reflect the main priorities of the organization. Strategic directions are formulated with input from the SWOC Analysis and Council and support the mission.

Objectives Objectives are statements that articulate – at a high level – how the strategic directions will be realized throughout the organization.

Desired Organizational Outcomes The desired organizational outcomes are broad, high-level statements that reflect what the organization (Council) would like to see as a result of the implementation of the objectives.

Measurables How would we know success was reached?

Measures How can we evaluate our successes?

The Planning Context As we continue to grow and succeed, our capacity is the foundation for this work. Our members are our number one priority, and we must ensure our internal capacity is adequate to meet their needs. To advocate and bargain successfully, to represent more members effectively, and to campaign with impact, we must have the human and financial resources required. And moreover, we have a duty to live our values: to build effective and collegial working relationships with each other, with staff and with partners; to serve with honesty, integrity and compassion; and in all things, to be driven by the priorities and needs of our members. Our working environment challenges us to achieve these goals in many ways, including rapid technological change; ever-increasing workload; an increasing shortage of skilled workers; and an ever

Poor working conditions will not be tolerated, and despite considerable gains made by BCNU during the past year, significant challenges remain in areas of workload, work-life balance and workplace safety. Systemic budget pressures result in displacements, layoffs, demands for excessive overtime, assignments without adequate education and training, and similar challenges that put both nurses and their patients at increased risk. Our members continue to report alarming threats to their personal health and safety while at work, and violence is being experienced at an increasing rate. BCNU must continue to act, and must equip members to take action as advocates and activists. We also recognize that resolution of these issues requires renewed government commitment, the support of employers, assertive bargaining objectives, and implementation of new contract language. As the scope of certifications grows to include more non-nurse members, we must also recognize that the system still often fails to compensate healthcare workers commensurate with the value of their work. Thus we must continue to bargain for enhanced wages, benefits and working conditions for all our members, and then be vigilant to ensure that the full benefits and intentions of new contract language are achieved and safeguarded.

UPDATE MAGAZINE February/March 2014

Canada’s publicly funded and publicly delivered healthcare system is known to be one of the best in the world, but it continues to be eroded. There is a growing proliferation of private health services, some of them entirely privately funded and others offered within public settings. Continuing to be impacted by the 2008/09 global economic downturn, pressures are increasing to offload delivery of publicly funded services to this growing sector. These trends represent an erosion of the Canada Health Act and compromise the values and social safety net that Canadians consider so important. These trends also are fundamentally at odds with BCNU mission and values. Given our analysis of the policy platforms and priorities of the current provincial and federal governments, it is imperative that BNCU continues to act effectively to protect the public and BCNU members from efforts to further erode public healthcare. To be successful, we must ensure that we are recognized and effective as a significant voice in the public policy arena with respect to healthcare issues.

VISION The BCNU shall be recognized as a champion for improved work life, health and economic status for our members, and as a leading advocate for the publicly funded healthcare system.

MISSION The BCNU protects and advances the health, social and economic well being of our members and our communities.


VALUES The seven core calues listed below support the vision and mission of the BCNU and reflect key behaviours that guide our daily actions. As a member-driven organization: • the BCNU demonstrates Collectivity by acting together to make certain that all activities and decisions are inclusive and accomplished for the betterment of the whole. • the BCNU demonstrates Democracy by actively engaging our membership through egalitarian processes where equal rights to both representation and involvement are guaranteed. • the BCNU demonstrates Equality by ensuring that each member has access to all services of the BCNU. • the BCNU demonstrates Excellence by incorporating best practices throughout the organization when responding to and supporting our members. • the BCNU demonstrates Integrity by being honest, respectful, accountable and transparent. • the BCNU demonstrates commitment to Social Justice by advocating and promoting that the social determinants of health be equally accessible to ensure the dignity of every human being. • the BCNU demonstrates Solidarity by promoting unity of our members based on shared goals and values.

STRATEGIC DIRECTION ONE Increase BCNU’s capacity to respond to our number one priority, our members.



1.1 Increase knowledge of, and response to members’ priorities

Increased member satisfaction

1.2 Enhance member participation in the electoral processes of BCNU

Stronger member participation

1.3 Implement best practices across the BCNU organization

Enhanced effectiveness and efficiency in responding to our members.

1.4 Provide consistent, high level representation of members (from staff and stewards)

Increase in member satisfaction

1.5 Increase member engagement in BCNU

Increase in member understanding of what the Union is doing and empowerment to take action for themselves and others

1.6 Increase involvement of our diverse membership in BCNU

Increase connection with our diverse members

Adherence to Collective Agreement language and gains


STRATEGIC DIRECTION TWO Enhance the socio-economic status, work-life balance, and workplace safety of our members.



2.1 Ensure that BCNU members remain employed as BCNU members in unionized healthcare jobs

Retain the members we have employed in BCNU worksites

2.2 Implement bargaining gains

Educated members Educated members on Collective Agreement changes Active stewards monitoring and enforcing collective agreements Committees established as required by Collective Agreement

2.3 Improve members’ personal health and safety in the workplace and promote improved work-life balance

Safe worksites and healthy members

2.4 Safe staffing for safe patient care

Implementation of ratios and other solutions as identified in bargaining priorities

2.5 Achieve substantial bargaining gains for new members

Move members into the NBA

STRATEGIC DIRECTION THREE Engage the public and members to champion and improve our publicly funded and delivered healthcare system and protect it from further erosion.



3.1 Increase members’ and public knowledge of the benefits of publicly funded healthcare delivery

Members and the public engaged in successful campaigns to maintain services

3.2 Enhance public recognition of BCNU as a respected voice on issues affecting social determinants of health

Increased voice, opinion and input into discussions and decisions on healthcare

3.3 Ensure the voice of nurses has a unified message regarding public healthcare delivery

Consistent strong messaging supporting public healthcare

STRATEGIC DIRECTION FOUR Increase our Membership.



4.1 Organize more nurses and more non-nurse members

Increased membership

4.2 Promote our professional profile and outreach to nurses and other healthcare workers and professionals

Greater union density


Staff Profile



EXPERIENCED ADVOCATE Bella Brown draws on her experience as a nurse, steward and labour relations officer to help nurses develop new rotations with the 37.5-hour workweek.

BELLA BROWN WEARS many hats. She currently serves as BCNU’s Coordinator for Rotations and Scheduling where she’s tasked with ensuring the smooth implementation of the new 37.5 hour workweek. She’s also the staff person responsible for BCNU members’ public pension portfolio and serves as an alternate trustee on the Municipal Pension Plan Board. Brown grew up in New Brunswick, and studied nursing in her hometown of Bathurst where she worked as a pediatric nurse in the local regional hospital. She became involved with the newly-formed New

Brunswick Nurses’ Union when she was invited to a meeting. “I went and then I ended up very quickly being a provincial rep for my hospital within the NBNU!” she recalls. It was at a time when the nurses in New Brunswick were making far less than the national average and were negotiating a major contract to get a 30 percent wage increase. “Part of my initial involvement was to ensure a message fan-out was in place for our specific area. If a job action was initiated the province’s nurses would all receive a message within about 20 minutes to roll out the

specific plan. We could have had the whole province notified to go down if we needed it!” Brown recalls. “That was kind of my initiation, and learning the collective agreement was part of the training.” Brown moved to British Columbia in the late 80’s and began working at Children’s Hospital. “I got to know all the ins and outs of the facility, so in 1999 when BCNU was preparing for essential services, my co-worker Lani deHek asked ‘How would you like to come to a meeting because you know the whole facility?’ I did and I became a ward rep and then steward.” “Lani was the full-time steward coordinator and I filled in for her for a couple of weeks one year while she was on vacation. We did the same thing the following year but she never came back after accepting a job at BCNU, and I ended up taking on her full-time steward coordinator role.” Brown took advantage of the union’s Steward Mentorship Program where she partnered with an LRO for two six-week placements. She was later hired as temporary labour relations officer before starting full-time in 2006. Since then she’s completed the University of British Columbia’s eMBA program in 2010. Brown began coordinating the shift from the 36 to the 37.5hour workweek after the ratification of the Nurses’ Bargaining Association collective agreement in 2012, and worked with a team of rotation reps in each health authority who do the outreach

work of connecting with members and developing rotations. “I’ve been the link to the employers whenever problems have come along,” explains Brown. “The new rotations are in place and the situation is settling. Some members are still not happy and we have some grievances to work through, but the purpose of the new language was to ensure that more positions came into the system, not less.” Brown says that some employers have been diligent in trying to put regular work into place and cut their costs as intended but there have also been struggles. “Our members are often the ones who notify us of a possible violation of the collective agreement – not only regarding rotations – and it’s really gratifying when you can sit down and put our understanding of the collective agreement on the table with the employer and come up a mutually agreeable resolution.” Brown is also a mentor to the expanding BCNU’s servicing staff in BCNU. “I keep a very open door policy. It’s about understanding what nursing is and how it’s not all about the rulebooks, because the rules can be black and white, but day to day functions rarely are.” Brown’s message to members: “You are the union. Every nurse needs to read the collective agreement when they get hired from A to Z and keep re-reading it, because sometimes collective agreements change. If you don’t know what your rights are, how do you know when the employer or anybody else is violating them?” update


Who Can Help?


REGIONAL REPS VANCOUVER METRO Colette Wickstrom Chair C 604-789-9240

BCNU CAN. Here’s how you can get in touch with the right person to help you.

COASTAL MOUNTAIN Kath-Ann Terrett Chair C 604-828-0155

CONTACT YOUR STEWARDS For all workplace concerns contact your steward. REGIONAL REPS If your steward can’t help, or for all regional matters, contact your regional rep. EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE For all provincial, national or union policy issues, contact your executive committee.

CENTRAL VANCOUVER Judy McGrath Co-Chair C 604-970-4339


TREASURER Mabel Tung C 604-328-9346

PRESIDENT Debra McPherson C 604-209-4253

EXECUTIVE COUNCILLOR Marg Dhillon C 604-839-9158

VICE PRESIDENT Christine Sorensen C 250-819-6293

EXECUTIVE COUNCILLOR Deb Ducharme C 250-804-9964


Diane LaBarre Co-Chair C 604-341-5231 SHAUGHNESSY HEIGHTS Claudette Jut Chair C 604-786-8422 RIVA Lauren Vandergronden Chair C 604-785-8148 SIMON FRASER Liz Ilczaszyn Co-Chair C 604-785-8157 Debbie Picco Co-Chair C 604-209-4260

FRASER HEALTH Jonathan Karmazinuk C 604-312-0826


INTERIOR HEALTH Janet Elizabeth Van Doorn C 778-214-4798

VANCOUVER COASTAL Marlene Goertzen C 778-874-9330

SOUTH FRASER VALLEY Cheryl Appleton Co-Chair C 604-839-8965

NORTHERN HEALTH Louise Weightman C 250-639-6436

VANCOUVER ISLAND Barry Phillips C 778-679-9737

Lisa Walker Co-Chair C 604-880-9105

FRASER VALLEY Linda Pipe Chair C 604-793-6444 WEST KOOTENAY Lorne Burkart Chair C 250-354-5311 EAST KOOTENAY Patt Shuttleworth Chair C 250-919-4890 NORTH WEST Sharon Sponton Chair C 250-877-2547 NORTH EAST Jackie Nault Chair C 250-960-8621 OKANAGAN-SIMILKAMEEN Laurie Munday Chair C 250-212-0530 THOMPSON NORTH OKANAGAN Tracy Quewezance Chair C 250-320-8064 SOUTH ISLANDS Adriane Gear Co-Chair C 778-679-1213 Margo Wilton Co-Chair C 250-361-8479 PACIFIC RIM Jo Salken Chair C 250-713-7066

UPDATE MAGAZINE February/March 2014

Off Duty



ON A MISSION MARIA VILLACRUSIS AND MARIA MATA ARE PROVIDING CARE TO PATIENTS IN THE PHILIPPINES MARIA VILLACRUSIS IS overcome with emotion when she’s asked to describe how it feels to treat patients in the Philippines in need of medical attention. “I’ve witnessed the poverty in that country and I’ve met many people who need medical attention but can’t afford it,” says the Vancouver General Hospital RN. “This is our way of going to these communities and doing whatever we can to make these people’s lives better.” Villacrusis is part of a large team of Vancouver-based medical professionals who belong to the Canadian Medical Mission Society (CMMS). Founded four years ago, the registered non-profit organization provides services to countries like the Philippines. This year CMMS is sending a group of nurses, surgeons, dentists to the Mindanao Medical Centre located in General Santos City. From February 24 to March 8 the team will work around the clock providing care and treatment to thousands of individuals. Maria Mata will be one of

those volunteers. It will be the Surrey Memorial Hospital RN’s third trip to the Philippines in as many years. Mata must book vacation time and cover all expenses, from accommodation to flights, in order to go. But she isn’t spending time thinking about the financial impact of the experience, instead she’s

already thinking about what she’ll do when she gets there. “I have been assigned as medical supplies room coordinator,” Mata explains. “I will organize our resources, distribute medication and ensure the supply area is stocked with the necessary equipment.” The CMMS team will work with medical professionals based in the Philippines through the duration of the trip, and will treat thousands of people in the short time they are there. During the last visit in 2013, lineups formed outside of the medical centre where services were being offered. In just two weeks, between two and three thousand people were able to get medical treatment. Villacrusis and Mata have dozens of stories about the positive impact each mission

NURSE ON A MISSION Vancouver General Hospital RN Maria Villacrusis is committed to providing medical care to patients in the Philippines.

has on local residents. “We once had a mother bring in her seven year-old son who couldn’t hear,” recalls Mata. “His mother told us he had been that way since he was just a baby. Later on, we determined he had an infection in his ear and it was treated by our staff. After prescribing some antibiotics, he was able to hear. His mother had assumed he had been born this way. The awareness and education is a big part of the process.” Hearing tests and hearing aids, dental restoration and extraction, ear surgery and thyroid surgery are all provided by the CMMS team. “One of the first patients we ever treated was a woman who had been living with an enlarged thyroid for over 25 years,” says Villacrusis. “She had children to feed and couldn’t spend money on surgery. We hear that all the time when we are there. Medical treatments are not a priority.” Villacrusis and Mata were both born in the Philippines and giving back to their country is an opportunity they feel lucky to have. “It’s a valuable experience,” says Mata. “The mission helps unfortunate people and promotes well-being and quality of life. The work we are doing over there is making a big difference. You can see it just days after arriving that people’s lives are being changed for the better.” update For more information on the Canadian Medical Mission Society, visit

Elections for President • Vice President • Treasurer • Executive Councillors • Regional Executive

MARCH 10-31


2014 PM 40834030