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Imagine if we valued nurses the way we value sports heroes

Imagine if we valued nurses the way we value sports heroes


That’s the pitch of this new campaign by the Ontario Nurses Association, the union representing 59,000 registered nurses and allied health professionals in the province.

From the press release:

“We know and most Ontarians understand that nurses really are the most valuable players in health care,” says ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud, RN. “Anyone who has used the health care system has seen the extraordinary skills, dedication and value that nurses bring to the table each and every day. These transit shelter ads continue to make the point that nurses are the heroes of health care.”
Haslam-Stroud says that, “Our health care system desperately needs the invaluable skills and care that nurses bring, and the government must recognize the fact that dollar for dollar, nurses are the best value in health care.”

No argument there. But why does the union feel it has to remind people how important nurses are? And why now?

The province of Ontario is currently undergoing top-down austerity measures for public employees. Right now, they are locked in a battle with the province’s public school teachers over wages and benefits after the provincial government passed a law suspending their rights to collective bargaining. Ontario doctors, who are part of the public healthcare system, are also being targeted for cuts. Other public employees, including nurses, are obviously feeling threatened. (Ontario nurses were already given a wage freeze in 2010.)


From the most recent President’s Message by Linda Haslam-Stroud:

In the next few months, important decisions will be made that will have a significant impact on the working conditions for nurses and our ability to provide safe and quality care. A quality work environment equates to better health outcomes for our patients.

Respect for nurses and the value of our work must be front and centre in our discussions with the government on valuing public services. Our democratic right to collectively bargain our terms and conditions of work, to value our worth, through negotiations with our employers, is fundamentally at stake. Nurses will stand together to protect our democratic rights.

Ontario nurses will also be keeping a close watch on the statements being made regarding a vision for the future of our health care system. Frontline nurses understand the barriers and challenges to address as we move forward to improve the system to meet the needs of our patients.

To build public support, this campaign drives Ontarians to a campaign web page where they can personally thank nurses who have touched their lives, as well as share stories about great nurses.

There is also radio, which can be heard here.

It’s an interesting campaign, although I find the “over 40 skills” line confusing. I’ll assume that’s one of those times when an internally-meaningful message was assumed to be understood externally. But the unexpected image does have stopping power, quite literally. When I saw it in downtown Ottawa today, I stopped to check it out.

Apparently, it’s a continuation of an existing campaign. I found this on the agency site:


Ontario Nurses Association
doug and serge inc. (Toronto)

I am Creative Director at Acart Communications, a Canadian Social Issues Marketing agency. Read more