Issue #1 / April 2017
A newsletter for OPSEU members working as registered practical nurses in community health care, mental health, hospital support, long-term care, corrections and developmental services
Welcome to RPN Report: Your voice in OPSEU and the workplace
On behalf of more than 4,000 OPSEU members working across Ontario as registered practical nurses, we welcome you to the first edition of The RPN Report. We believe in the importance of sharing information and fostering a two-way dialogue with RPNs who work in six OPSEU sectors. We hope that RPN Report will strengthen our communications capacity with you, the members.
Our workplaces may differ, but our aims are the same: to promote, and advocate on behalf of, RPNs everywhere in the province through our Registered Practical Nurses Occupational Division.
The division is dedicated to promoting recognition of the scope, practice, and professional responsibilities of RPNs. We will work to advance demands for bargaining and workload issues that would apply to all RPNs, in all parts of Ontario, and in every sector in which they work.
Give us your feedback! We can build a stronger newsletter only if we hear from you and the issues that matter most to registered practical nurses. We are committed to building a stronger division within OPSEU.
The RPN Occupational Division Steering Committee
Lucy Morton, (Community Health Care Professionals Division), Chair
Christine Marshall (Hospital Support Division)
Cynthia Ladouceur (Mental Health Division)
Mary Ann Burns (Long-Term Care Division)
Our goals as an Occupational Division
- To bring together members with common occupational interests and coordinate division activities;
- To identify, coordinate, and promote the scope of practice and professional responsibilities of RPNs within OPSEU and provincially;
- To develop and promote demands for bargaining, health and safety and workload issues;
- To promote and advocate for RPNs through policy, resolutions and constitutional amendments;
- To develop and build communication links and networks for RPNs; and
- To promote common themes, activities, and mandates as they pertain to the union.
RPN leadership meeting May 8
The RPN occupational division is holding a one-day leadership meeting at the Marriot Courtyard Hotel in Toronto on May 8. The meeting is an opportunity for the divisional council and highest-ranking members from each bargaining unit to gather and discuss workplace issues that our members commonly deal with.
For more information, please visit www.opseu.org
Our recent history
In 1993, the RHPA (Regulated Health Professions Act, 1991) and the Nursing Act, 1991, came into effect. The RPHA outlines the controlled acts that, if performed by an unqualified person, could be harmful or life threatening. The Nursing Act, 1991, outlines which acts outlined in the RPHA that nurses are able to perform. Together, these two acts set out the legal framework for nursing in Ontario.
In a nutshell, the watershed year that really changed the scope of practice for RPNs was 2005. At that time, the educational requirements for nursing were substantially changed, and the scope of practice reflected that. As of 2005, RNs had to study for four years at a university and RPNs needed to graduate with a college diploma.
At the same time, the province was experiencing a shortfall of nurses. The new four-year degree requirement for RNs meant it would take new RNs several years to enter the labour market and help address the nursing shortfall. RPNs, on the other hand, were able to graduate quickly and were well positioned to help address this issue. Given the deeper level of understanding gained through increased educational requirements, RPNs were positioned to hit the ground running when they left school and were capable to act more autonomously than ever before.
It was also believed that with the advances in technology, the changing nature of health care, and an adequate staffing mix of both nursing professions, the scope of practice of RPNs should be broadened. To that end, the Nursing Act, 1991, was modified in 2005 to allow RPNs to initiate certain controlled act procedures outlined in the RHPA on their own, provided they felt competent to perform the act. Prior to this change, RPNs required an order (basically direction from a doctor and/or an RN) to initiate a controlled act.
A lot is expected of registered practical nurses. We are individually accountable for our professional activities. Our employers expect us to work both individually and collectively with other health care team members. We’re expected to demonstrate competence at all time, while constantly building our skills knowledge. We share the same legislative scope of practice for nursing as registered nurses and practise autonomously under the mandate of the Regulated Health Professions Act.
That’s a lot of expectations placed on our shoulders. We’re professionals and we deliver on our responsibilities. But … are we getting the level of support from our employers to meet those expectations? We don’t think so.
OPSEU’s RPN occupational division council is prepared to campaign on the issues our members face in their workplaces, regardless of your sector.
These are a few of the issues we have identified for improvement:
- Wage improvements based on the recognition of the full scope of work done by RPNs;
- Workload issues;
- Health and safety in the workplace;
- Across the board recognition of the full scope of our work, regardless of sector;
- Greater participation by RPNs in decisions made by employers that determine at what level we practice within the scope, and
- More opportunities for professional development.
COPSOQ can improve the health of OPSEU RPNs
The Copenhagen Psychosocial Questionnaire (COPSOQ) is a tool where workers can record their exposures to psychosocial hazards and general health outcomes in the workplace. The questionnaire probes an employee’s work environment, personal experiences, the relationship between work and home life, and conflicts and offensive behaviours a worker may encounter.
The purpose of using the survey is to identify which stress factors can be associated with health symptoms. The results can provide a focus for remedies to prevent particular stresses. We are looking to identify some of the stress factors faced by RPNs in their workplaces that can be changed; this is especially important when identifying workload issues or when members participate in bargaining collective agreements.
More information about COPSOQ will be distributed soon to OPSEU RPNs
To learn more about COPSOQ, please visit
OPSEU RPNs: Where we work
Sector 2: Developmental Services
- Community Living Mississauga (part-time)
- Parents of Technologically Dependent Children (Kids Country Club)
- Participation Lodge – Grey Bruce
Sector 8: Long-Term Care
- Lakehead Long Term Care Service Corp.
- Edgewater Garden Long Term Care Centre
- Lee Manor Home for the Aged (full-time and part-time)
- Meaford Nursing Home Ltd.
- The Pines District of Muskoka Home for the Aged
- Regional Municipality of Halton (Locals 261, 265, 282)
- Sherwood Park Manor
- Grey Gables County Home for the Aged
- Hillcrest Village
- Mapleview Lodge, United Counties of Leeds and Grenville
Sector 10: Hospital Professionals Division
- Chidren’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario
- Quinte Healthcare Corp.
- Family Medicine Centre, Queen’s University
Sector 11: Hospital Support
- St. Thomas Elgin General Hospital
- North Wellington County Health Care Corp.
- Grey Bruce Health Services
- South Bruce Grey Health Centre
- West Parry Sound Health Centre
- Stevenson Memorial Hospital
- Mackenzie Richmond Hill Hospital
- Religious Hospitallers of St. Joseph of the Hotel Dieu
- St. Joseph’s Continuing Care Centre (full-time and part-time)
- St. Francis Memorial Hospital
- Deep River and District Hospital
Sector 17: Community Health Care Professionals
- Victorian Order of Nurses, Hamilton-Wentworth
- Grey Bruce Health Unit
- Paramed Home Health Care
- North Bay-Parry Sound Health Unit
- The Board of Health of the Timiskaming Health Unit
Sector 18: Mental Health
- Brockville Mental Health Centre
- Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Sciences
- St. Joseph’s Health Care London
- Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH)
- Providence Continuing Care
- Waypoint Centre for Mental Health Care
- St. Joseph’s Care Group