CAW Statement on National Nurses Week May 10 to 16

May 12, 2010, 2:10 PM EST

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Nursing Week is celebrated each year across Canada and around the world during the week of Florence Nightingale's birthday on May 12. The celebrations are a time to recognize the dedication and achievements of nurses that contribute to excellence in health care and to increase awareness among the public and government of the issues and challenges all health care workers face.

The CAW appreciates that there are many health care workers who deliver front-line care in Canada. In addition to nurses, this includes a personal support workers, continuing care attendants, and health care aides, all of whom have risen to the challenge of caring for patients in a variety of settings with increasingly complex care needs. We commit to supporting all nurses and other caregivers, who are essential to meet the current and future needs of our aging population and to provide competent and skilled care with dignity and compassion.

The CAW recognizes the risk of ever-present occupational disease and injuries challenging front line workers in providing quality care. They regularly face exposure to communicable diseases, chronic understaffing, increasing patient acuity, and escalating situations of violence which have become all too common in our workplaces. We recommit to ensuring that prevention strategies are a priority and will actively challenge both government and employers to create safer workplaces. We are mindful that other support staff face identical or similar dangers on the front lines of health care, and are equally deserving of this same support.

Our union acknowledges that while we celebrate the contribution of nurses during Nurses Week, they ultimately practice as an important part of an entire team of dedicated health care providers. Without the support and contribution of other allied personnel in the operation of our health care facilities, it would be impossible for nurses to provide skilled, dedicated care. But far too many health care workers, including nurses, are subject to a precarious work environment where they must work two or more part time jobs to earn a decent standard of living. Our union is cognizant of the need to respect the contribution of nurses and other health care workers through ensuring fair and equitable employment conditions. Enhancing their working conditions will benefit everyone who is touched by our health care system. Collectively we will continue work to ensure nurses working in all health care settings have adequate levels of staffing to provide care that is safe for both themselves and their patients.

In this time of economic upheaval and uncertainty, Canadians rely on their health care system more than ever. Despite this, some short-sighted governments will attempt to cut necessary services, as well as compensation for workers in order to balance their budgets. CAW will commit to defending their rights as workers and to strengthening our fight to preserve and enhance public health care for all.

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