The Saskatchewan Union of Nurses celebrated its 40th Anniversary last week in Yorkton with its Annual General Meeting at the Gallagher Centre.
The theme of the meeting was Celebrating Forty Years of Strength and Solidarity, which Tracy Zambory, SUN president, said is really reflective of the organization currently.
“The most important outcome form our 40th anniversary annual meeting is we’ve really reignited solidarity and we’ve come together as an exciting, vibrant group and our members are becoming more and more engaged in the process in our social media in standing up and standing out for our profession,” she said.
Although proposed essential services legislation is a primary concern of the union, Zambory refused to talk about it.
In February 2012, the Saskatchewan Court of Queen’s Bench ruled the law was unconstitutional because the right to strike, it said, had Charter protection. The Saskatchewan Court of Appeals (COA) disagreed and struck down that decision. The Supreme Court of Canada is scheduled to start hearing an appeal to the COA decision May 16.
Nevertheless, the Saskatchewan government has made concessions on certain aspects of the proposed act, such as not requiring employers and unions to start negotiating a list of essential employees 90 days before a contract expires.
At its meeting last week amended its position statement on essential services deleting “SUN opposes any proposed legislation declaring nurses essential service workers” and replacing it with a “Legislation Consultation Framework and Essential Service Principles.”
“If there is to be essential services legislation, we regard the consultation process as critical to ensuring that new essential services legislation is built upon principles developed in a consensus-driven dialogue between the Government of Saskatchewan and other parties who have a role and responsibility in the delivery of health services,” the resolution read, defining five hallmarks of an effective consultation process and eight principles of essential services.
Another hot topic in health care addressed at the meeting was an amendment to the Midwifery Position Statement to bring it in line with federal legislation and support the establishment of midwife services across all the regional health authoriries.
“Midwives are very important component to the team, absolutely,” Zambory said.
She also expressed SUN’s support for the expansion of nurse practitioner services.
“Nurse practitioners are becoming a very important, essential part, especially in rural and remote areas where perhaps there is a chance that they aren’t able to recruit physicians,” Zambory said. “There was an announcement made by Minister [Randy] Weekes [minister responsible for rural and remote health] a number of days ago, along with the Saskatchewan Association of Nurse Practitioners at their conference about a new program that they’re moving forward with nurse practitioners that has a grow-your-own component, that there’s some dollars attached, at least three or more nurse practitioners that are going to be put in communities around Saskatchewan and we completely support that. Now, there’s some work to be done between the minister and SUN to make that process go forward, but we’re really excited for that collaborative action to happen.”
There was plenty of excitement during the meeting about two public awareness efforts SUN has been waging, the “Making the Difference” campaign and the brand new “Wear White” campaign, recently launched to enhance nurses’ visibility and show pride in the community.
“The making the difference campaign is in its third year and it’s talking about the important role registered nurses have in every aspect of health care and Saskatchewan,” Zambory said. “It’s all about the expert training, the critical thinking and being there for the patient when it really counts.
“The wear white campaign has grown the last three days, our members are excited and enthusiastic to stand up and stand out for their profession.”
Zambory believes these efforts are working.
“Our public polling tells us that 80 per cent of the public want to know who their registered nurse is and when we talk even more about the public, they’re really starting to come online with our media campaign,” she said. “We feel that statistically for us it’s working very well. When we do our Google analytics the hits on our social media are very high we have excellent public engagement in our campaign.”
In the final analysis, Zambory pointed to a very successful event, including a nod to the city’s hospitality.
“The hospitality in Yorkton has been bar none excellent,” she said. “Yorkton is an amazing town, we’ve been embraced completely and we got our perogies, cabbage rolls and sausage everybody went back for seconds, thirds and fourths for that delight that can only be got in Yorkton; it’s the best here.”