Standing Strong

As nurses, it’s in our DNA to stand strong

In 2017, that meant drawing on our resilience, our integrity and our commitment to better health care. It meant rebuilding, refreshing and stabilizing our union so we can stay focused on the members we serve. And more than ever, it meant standing up and speaking out for what we believe in.

Leadership Messages

Deb Ducharme Executive Councillor
Colleen McFadden COO & Executive Director
Sharon Sponton Treasurer
Christine Sorensen President
Adriane Gear Acting Vice President
Rhonda Croft Acting Executive Councillor
Umar Sheikh CEO
Deb Ducharme Executive Councillor

It has truly been an honour to serve as a BCNU executive councillor for the past eight years.

Pensions, and how they impact BCNU members, have always been my core focus. An important part of this role has been ensuring that members understand their pension plans and providing them with information to give them confidence that the plan they are contributing to today will be there for them when they retire.

I myself am retiring this year and handing over the executive councillor portfolio to my successor, Chris Armeanu. In preparation, BCNU has initiated a supportive mentorship plan to allow for a smooth transition and assist with the steep learning curve that comes with familiarizing oneself with the pension plans our members enjoy.

I strongly believe that a member’s pension is the second most valuable asset in the collective agreement, right behind their hourly wage. While a salary provides income while working, a pension provides income throughout retirement.

BCNU’s popular pension workshops were the highlight of my work in 2017. So much of the union’s work is about assisting members who are struggling or facing challenges. Members appreciate the workshop’s positive learning environment and finding out how the choices they make throughout their careers impact their pensions.

The members are the union and I am proud to be a part of this group and where we find ourselves after the year we went through. We’ve had many positive outcomes despite some difficult changes. But this year has confirmed what I’ve always believed about BCNU: through difficult times we are strong, we are member-focused, and we have great staff. Our membership understood the challenges we faced and have supported the process in place that allows us to work though them.

Colleen McFadden COO & Executive Director

This year I had the honour of stepping into the newly created role of chief operating officer. As COO, I’m responsible for the internal operations of the union — and hiring and supporting the right number of people was my first major goal.

Several very valuable senior staff members left the organization recently and we needed to improve our staffing levels in order to tackle the servicing workload. I’m happy to report that we achieved this objective by coming up with some very creative recruitment and retention strategies. These included the creation of new training positions for BCNU members and existing staff wishing to increase their responsibilities. It’s been very successful, and some people have since moved into regular positions within the organization.

Looking forward, we will focus on providing our new staff members with education, mentoring, and development opportunities to help them grow in their roles. The new staff have brought an energy and enthusiasm that has infused the organization, while senior staff have stepped up to the challenge of mentoring new people on the team. There’s a very positive “going forward” buzz around the office.

We are committed to managing issues proactively to avoid fighting daily fires. Last year we invited staff to provide their ideas about how to improve our organizational systems and culture to better serve members. This exercise allowed us to look at processes more deeply and avoid Band-Aid solutions. One suggestion brought forward that we acted on is the addition of a second reception/switchboard operator that now provides much better service to members who call or drop in.

We’ve also done a lot of work to ensure that we remain true to the values of the organization while cultivating an openness and willingness to look at different ways of excelling. We are looking at our processes more deeply, asking ourselves how we can do things better, and ensuring that we incorporate our values into the work we do so that everyone is on the same page.

I see 2018 as the year we focus on growth and building skills within our organization. More staff are willing to come forward and help make BCNU the organization we want it to be. It’s exciting to see this renewed openness and consider the possibilities that can arise from it.

Sharon Sponton Treasurer

My primary focus continues to be ensuring that union resources are used to address the concerns nurses currently face. With this in mind, we continued to perform our core functions while recognizing and providing support in several priority areas, such as raising awareness about violence prevention and psychological health and safety, acknowledging diversity within our membership, developing our leadership capacity, and promoting our steward teams.

Ending the year with a budget surplus was a key highlight of 2017. Ensuring that BCNU is fiscally responsible with members’ dues continues to be my number-one priority, and it’s essential that those dues are being effectively used to address members’ needs.

The substantial bargaining gains we made in the last round of bargaining have allowed us to use our damage payments to compensate members for working short, and the $1.00 an hour raise we negotiated for LPNs came into effect in September.

Last year also saw the union offering members more bursary opportunities. We secured $5 million related to the health ministry’s strategic funding priorities in areas such as community care, care for frail and medically complex seniors, long-term care, mental health, substance abuse, and career advancement. These funds have allowed us to offer additional opportunities to members who are striving to specialize in these areas, and that’s been very exciting. We have also continued to provide additional financial support through our member education bursary, the new nurse assistance fund and new NCLEX preparation course funding.

I’m also proud to report that we have continued to build capacity by providing opportunities for groups such as our human rights and equity caucuses. Recently I brought a proposal to council asking that we allow one designate from each of these groups to access some form of education to help them excel in their roles. This is an important step toward ensuring that we build capacity within the organization as 
a whole.

In the year ahead, we will continue to focus on effective governance and maintaining a healthy defence fund as we enter bargaining. Our ongoing priority will always be to ensure that BCNU remains financially sound in order to continue providing members with the services they need.

Christine Sorensen President

The last 12 months presented BCNU with some significant hurdles. But there was no shortage of opportunities to reset, be creative and focus on excellence. My vision now is to move the organization from being good to being great, and I’m thrilled with the direction we are headed in.

A renewed focus on good governance was a major highlight for me this year. We have a united council, strong leadership teams, and our members across nursing sectors are more engaged. It’s also been exciting to see the growth of diversity in our organization – not just an awareness of diversity, but the acceptance and development of more allies. Our provincial council and regional executives are the most diverse we’ve ever seen, and better reflect our entire membership.

It’s important to note the difficult leadership challenges we experienced last year. But through it all, we stuck by our values and our processes while conducting our elections in a fair and transparent manner, and I’m really proud of that. Many organizations would not have survived what we went through, but we did and have come out of it stronger and better able to serve our members and the people of British Columbia.

Last year we spent a lot of time rebuilding, refreshing, and stabilizing our union. I led the development of a new, three-year strategic plan, which the council set in place in June. In the past we developed strategic plans on an annual basis, but I felt it was important to establish a longer-range vision. We put an emphasis on sound governance, strong member advocacy, increasing transparency and accountability, and living our values.

Our lobby drive during last year’s provincial election was also a major highlight. The organizing team coordinated its efforts with the assistance of BCNU staff, and met with every candidate running in the provincial election to secure a commitment to reduce violence in health care. That was an extraordinary achievement. Now, two-thirds of the sitting legislature and all provincial party leaders have pledged to reduce violence in health care – and we have the signatures to hold them to it.

The real heroes of BCNU are our members who stand strong every day – the thousands of nurses who strive to deliver safe patient care despite facing challenging practice environments. Many workplaces are not meeting psychological health and safety standards, yet our members remain committed to their work and to providing wonderful patient care in this province. I am lucky to have the pleasure of working on their behalf.

Adriane Gear Acting Vice President

Advancing the provincial violence-prevention campaign and promoting the implementation of the Canadian Standards Association standard for psychological health and safety have been my 2017 priorities.

Our violence-prevention campaign achieved several of its strategic goals. For example, we successfully engaged provincial election candidates and secured their signed pledges,
 committing to end violence in health care. Fifty-eight of those candidates were elected and are now sitting MLAs, which puts us in a great position to hold government accountable.

We’ve also been very successful in raising public and member awareness about the prevalence and impact of violence in health care. Our series of commercials depicting violence in acute, long-term care and the community has been very effective, and I’m pleased to report that the polling we commissioned confirms that the public supports our endeavor to achieve violence-free workplaces.

The implementation of the CSA standard in members’ workplaces has been my other key focus. The standard requires employers to identify psychological hazards and eliminate or mitigate the impact on a worker’s psychological health and well-being. BCNU negotiated the mandatory implementation of the standard in the last round of bargaining and I’m proud to report we are the first union in Canada to negotiate this language.

Mental-health system reform and the opiate crisis are other significant issues. I was pleased to represent BCNU at a forum organized last fall by the new Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions. The objective was to identify short-term solutions to address system-wide deficiencies while a more robust government strategy is developed. BCNU has also collaborated with the BC Centre for Substance Use, sponsoring two members to obtain addictions nursing fellowships.

I’m also very pleased about the success 
of BCNU’s personal resilience workshops. Last September I had the honor of giving 
a presentation about these workshops at 
the Canadian Mental Health Association national conference.

Last fall I had the privilege of attending all 16 of the union’s regional bargaining conferences. This gave me the opportunity to really understand first hand the various challenges that our members face, depending on where they live and in what care component they work.

As a council, we are working on a certificate in governance and leadership. I think that speaks to our commitment to govern BCNU effectively, and we are really striving to take the union where it needs to go. Internally, we’ve created a safer environment that fosters discussion, debate, and ensures that we make evidence-based decisions.

Although we’ve dealt with some very difficult issues last year, council was able to critically evaluate itself, even at its most vulnerable, and revamp BCNU’s strategic directions. This reflects our commitment to respectful relationships, professionalism and effective governance on behalf of all BCNU members. Most importantly, it will assure we are achieving psychologically healthy and safe workplaces throughout the organization.

Rhonda Croft Acting Executive Councillor

I came into this role in an acting capacity at the end of September 2017, and members’ occupational health and safety has been my primary focus. It’s a dynamic portfolio that affects everyone in our organization.

Members have been telling us about their struggles with violence in the workplace and untenable workloads. I’m working closely with Acting Vice President Adriane Gear, who previously held this role for some time. Together, we are pushing forward on violence prevention and psychologically healthy and safe workplaces with our partners in government, the Health Employers Association of BC, WorkSafeBC and other stakeholders. We recently initiated a province-wide inquiry where members can safely tell us their stories about how violence at work has impacted them. These stories can be heart-wrenching to hear, but the data we collect from them will be helpful at the bargaining table and further our efforts to create change.

I have also been focused on working with regional OH&S representatives on their priority issues and concerns. These include the running of effective joint occupational health and safety committees, ensuring that members report violence, and making sure stewards are able to participate in incident investigations.

I’ve clearly heard members’ concerns about incivility, bullying, and harassment in the workplace. Our promotion of Pink Shirt Day in February was just one way to start the conversations we need to have to address this problem. My nursing master’s degree entailed doing research around incivility, including root causes and ideas for solutions. I am very happy to be able to contribute to the process of empowering nurses with knowledge and ideas for positive change and I look forward to hearing more from members in the near future about their experiences with incivility.

It’s been a pleasure collaborating with BCNU staff in the course of my work. They are amazing people who are dedicated to working on behalf of the members and the organization. It’s been great to partner with them in planning education days, developing resource materials, and implementing communications strategies.

I have been humbled by the opportunity to take on this role. We have had a challenging year with many uncertainties. I feel I have the ability to contribute to this organization, and I am grateful for the warm welcome from the executive team. That exemplifies BCNU to me: a positive culture, strong organizational capacity, and sound governance. Together, we can make a difference for our members.

Umar Sheikh CEO

I have the honour and privilege to serve as BCNU’s chief executive officer. It’s a role I don’t take lightly and I’m proud to work every single day for the union and for the betterment of all its members.

I have been focused on creating an aligned strategy that meets our objectives. Whether that’s building a strong bargaining platform, developing external relationships, securing strategic wins in arbitration, or realizing the cost savings that are necessary to the system, we’ve been busy laying the groundwork for success in the year ahead.

2017 was an extremely challenging year for the union, but those challenges brought new opportunities and the ability to rebuild. First and foremost, the leadership election arbitrations are complete. The matter has now been decided and our election results have been upheld. We have proved over and over again that we are an organization of integrity and strength.

Further, we have reorganized the way we do business with other health-care unions and with the provincial government. We now have strategies and plans in place that will carry BCNU forward for the next five years, allowing us to grow in a way that is sustainable and beneficial to our members.

It really has been a year of rebuilding and standing strong.

Bargaining is my top priority in the coming year. Our goal is to bargain a new collective agreement that satisfies our members’ concerns, and they have made it clear that benefits and wages are their top issues.

We want to build a union that is in the top percentile in the country when it comes to satisfying its members’ needs at the bargaining table, and I know we have the tools and the talent to get there. The strategy is to create a healthy tension with government based on mutual respect and commitment to the negotiation process, while also standing our ground when we need to in order to advance our agenda.

I am pleased to see the positive morale among BCNU staff and leadership. When people come through incredibly difficult times it brings a renewed sense of kinship and the ability to work together on behalf of the members. They are why we are here and what our work is always about.

Regional Messages

In every region, our members are working together to defend our health-care system, advance our professional voice and effectively respond to issues as they arise. Our regional leadership help our members to stand strong, every day.

Central Vancouver Marlene Goertzen
Central Vancouver Judy McGrath
Coastal Mountain Kath-Ann Terrett
East Kootenay Helena Barzilay
Fraser Valley Tracey Greenberg
North East Danette Thomsen
North West Teri Forster
Okanagan-Similkameen Deanna Jerowsky
Pacific Rim Rachel Kimler
RIVA (Richmond-Vancouver) Sara Mattu
Shaughnessy Heights Claudette Jut
Simon Fraser Lynn Lagace
Simon Fraser Wendy Gibbs
South Fraser Valley Walter Lumamba
South Fraser Valley Hardev Bhullar
South Islands Margo Wilton
South Islands Lynnda Smith
Thompson North Okanagan Tracy Quewezance
Vancouver Metro Meghan Friesen
West Kootenay Ron Poland

“In the past, our members were often afraid to speak up for themselves. Now I’m seeing more people use the professional responsibility process to stand up for their rights. It’s been a brilliant change. Our members are also coming out to our regional meetings in greater numbers and ready with lots of questions. It’s great that they feel safe in that environment. It helps us equip them with the resources they need to feel stronger in the workplace.

“It’s important for our members to know they have an extremely good contract that acknowledges their right to work in a safe and supportive environment, both physically and psychologically. As we head into another bargaining round, we want to improve our contract further and provide even more support for our members’ practices. This is how we are standing strong together.”

Marlene Goertzen Co-Chair, Central Vancouver

“In 2017, we were in contact with more members than ever before, and attendance numbers at our regional meetings have gone up. At our lunch and information sessions in one of the big hospital cafeteria rooms, we see around 200 people attend. We’ve also been going to different units and holding lunches, which tend to be very well received. Vancouver Coastal Health is a big employer, so it’s really important for nurses that we get closer to their units. These are just some of the ways we have reached more members throughout the year.

“Reaching more members also means that we’re hearing more about nurses’ needs. If there are problems on the units, we hear about them in a more timely manner. Our members are also learning more about their rights. They know that when something’s wrong they need to contact their steward, whereas before they would just carry on and struggle. The fact that more nurses are being educated and learning more about their contract is extremely beneficial for the strength of the union.”

Judy McGrath Co-Chair, Central Vancouver

“Our region is focused on retaining and supporting younger nurses. We want to let them know that there are extra support services for them, and we want to support them in their roles. I’m encouraged by how many of our senior nurses are on board, and we’ve made a pledge to support our new nurses. We have a very engaged region, and we want to make sure everyone’s voices are heard.

“We’re starting to see the impact of this support. Younger nurses are joining the regional executive, becoming stewards, and using the professional responsibility process. They’re very concerned about their licences and they’re aware of overcapacity and the challenge of working short. They’re even coming to our pension workshops! It’s been a difficult year that is shifting and we’ve come out stronger. This new generation of nurses is very motivated – they’re improving the nursing profession and advocating for their rights.”

Kath-Ann Terrett Chair, Coastal Mountain

“There was a strong emphasis on meeting the needs of rural nurses in our last contract, but our next one needs even more. For example, we know it is a real challenge to fill positions in small towns, so we are working together to find ways to fill vacancies. If we can’t entice nurses to live here, then how can we meet staffing needs? This is so critical. We don’t have as many staff to share the workload, so in a small hospital the difference of just one nurse can mean working short.

“In small hospitals, it can be difficult covering so many areas. How do you function with only three nurses when someone comes into the emergency room, a woman goes into labour, and you have 20 other patients? These are demanding challenges, but now that we have more people engaged and empowered, I think our region is aligned for success in 2018. I think we will see some impactful and positive changes.”

Helena Barzilay Chair, East Kootenay

“I am new to the role of regional chair, having started last September. The learning process has been quite intense, but I’ve been loving the position. So far it has been a great adventure and I’m proud to serve the members.

“I always want positive results, but we experienced some tragic events in the Fraser Valley last year. A nine-year-old girl was struck by a city bus and died in the emergency department at Abbotsford Regional Hospital, and a police officer was shot and died in the ER as well. There have been many incidents like that, and as a result we’re working as a community to build resiliency and support each other. For example, the Abbotsford police department asked all the nurses working the day the officer passed away to attend his funeral as flag bearers during the ceremony. It was very emotional, and it really brought our community together. We have to look after ourselves, and we have to look after each other, every single day.”

Tracey Greenberg Chair, Fraser Valley

“Our nurses are my superheroes. They do it all. I’m awestruck every time I’m in the region with rural nurses and I hear their stories. I work in Prince George where the work is very specialized, but in rural areas our nurses need to support a wider range of health-care disciplines. They’ll be on the phone calling an ambulance to get a patient to a larger hospital while giving CPR at the same time.

“The BCNU election was one of the things that mattered most to North East region nurses this year. Our 2017 voter turnout was the largest recorded. I’m so encouraged that the effort we’re making to engage members is working, and people are getting involved. That energizes me. It’s an exciting time to be leading a group of people who are so engaged and dedicated. When nurses feel safe and supported, their patients will be safe and supported too.”

Danette Thomsen Chair, North East

“A lack of staff or resources is one of the major challenges we face in rural communities. Patients sometimes wait days to be flown out, but we believe your address shouldn’t dictate the type of care you receive. Our nurses always provide high quality care, but without proper resources patients don’t have the same outcomes and advantages as people in larger cities like Vancouver. Further, community nurse teams have moved to primary care teams, and while they are supposed to be cross-trained to broaden their scope of practice – this still hasn’t happened and it’s been frustrating for our nurses.

“We organized a big rally in Smithers to address both of these major issues. It was amazing. We also secured our very first signed violence-prevention pledge from our MLA that day. We’ve also seen positive outcomes from our last collective agreement regarding rural recruitment and retention money. Our nurses are slowly breaking down the barriers that exist to create positive change.”

Teri Forster Chair, North West

“The work we have completed around violence issues is a huge achievement for our region. We have a couple of sites that see higher rates of violence, like Kelowna Hospital. We have new stewards in place to help address this, but our work is not done. The next step is to keep building the program by finding mentors for our stewards, and increasing their education opportunities. We are building a strong voice for the union.

“I hope our members are seeing how much important work is underway, and are feeling heard. While there is still a lot to be done, we’re continuing to raise awareness around violence in the workplace. We want people to speak up if there are issues or unsafe practices. We cannot fix what we are unaware of. Mindset shifts take time, but changes are happening. You may not see it or feel it, but our members are speaking up, trusting the process, and at some point there will be a win – and that’s huge.”

Deanna Jerowsky Acting Regional Chair, Okanagan-Similkameen

“Island Health opened two beautiful new hospitals in our region in the fall of 2017, both in the central north part of Vancouver Island in Comox Valley and Campbell River. It’s been a huge event met with a series of significant challenges along the way — and our members are looking forward to resolving those challenges. The opening of the Comox Valley hospital also involved transitioning all the staff from an affiliate employer to Island Health. It’s been a huge undertaking for everyone there. Not only did their physical work environment change, but their employer is new and so are the processes. It’s both a physical change and a mind shift.

“Nurses across our region continue to persevere no matter what situation they find themselves in, and that to me is amazing. They put patient safety first, do their work like champions, and continue to march forth and take care of their patients. They’ve shown considerable resilience while working through the problems, and I’m very proud of them.”

Rachel Kimler Chair, Pacific Rim

“Change is happening in our region through the conversations members are having with each other, and the increased awareness of the union’s violence-prevention campaign. Members are starting to ask, ‘If violence isn’t allowed, why is our employer doing this?’ Suddenly, nurses are feeling empowered and supported. They’ve started to advocate for themselves, and shift the culture where events are dismissed because the violent person was a patient. When the same patient is discharged from the hospital, their violent behavior would not be tolerated by authorities or the public. Nurses are feeling that they can stand up, advocate for themselves, and tell the employer what’s unsafe.

“Members are also beginning to share more stories at our regional meetings, and when we do our walkabouts. They’re talking about discriminatory policies, and how practices that aren’t permitted in other professions are normalized in nursing. We have a voice and deserve to be heard, and if we stay united and strong we can make change. We have a ways to go, but we are headed in the right direction.”

Sara Mattu Chair, RIVA (Richmond-Vancouver)

“We were out in our region more this year and we saw more member engagement, more questions, and nurses becoming increasingly aware of what can happen when they voice their opinions. For example, they stood strong to protect their rights around vacation planning when the employer tried to implement an automated process. I heard from so many nurses that this was not going to be okay, and they were ready to put their name down to advocate for their rights. As nurses, we want to be able to say, ‘No, this is where I draw the line. Don’t take away my work life balance.’

“Our stewards and regional executives play a critical role. They volunteer a lot of their time and energy, and it’s important for the membership to understand that they are the people who are supporting us all. So let’s thank them – we can all play a part in creating positive change going forward.”

Claudette Jut Chair, Shaughnessy Heights

“‘Standing strong’ takes many forms our region because of its size. We have 5,300 members, and each worksite has diverse issues and different needs. That said, we are all unified against violence in the workplace. We’ve made it known that it’s not acceptable, and we will not stand idle in the face of inaction.

“It’s one thing to say, ‘I feel violated,’ or ‘My workplace is not psychologically healthy.’ But I encourage our members to ask themselves, what they can do about it. We encourage our members to act and to think of ways to continuously improve. We now have many members engaging in the professional responsibility process and filling out more grievances. We must choose to be a leader in order to achieve anything. And as nurses and as a union, we have to collaborate toward positive change.”

Lynn Lagace Co-Chair, Simon Fraser

“Workload challenges are one of the most common issues I hear about from members. While it’s a key problem, it’s one I can’t directly fix. When nurses come to me with this issue, the first thing I ask is if they’ve started the professional responsibility process, or grieved if they think it violates the collective agreement. More members are submitting professional responsibility forms, and it’s working. I’ve seen results, and direct positive outcomes. Yes, it takes time – but if you do nothing, nothing will change. Members seem to understand this and they’ve stepped up, which has been great to see.

“The latest contract language has also improved the professional responsibility process by increasing the submission rate to the Nursing Review Committee or advancing to the new Nurse Staffing Secretariat. It’s a work in progress, but there are results including increased staff, and there’s a collective commitment to make the workplace its best.”

Wendy Gibbs Co-Chair, Simon Fraser

“Recruiting and mentoring stewards and developing a program to support their success has been one of my main goals. Although we have almost 5,300 members in our region, we have just 15 to 18 active stewards. When I speak with stewards in our region, I find they are looking for more support in order to embrace their role and really assist the membership. I want to train them to do their best, and to provide opportunities for growth.

“Stewards are the ones at the front lines, advocating for the members. They are really the face of the union, and their contributions are vital to our success. Our focus on stewards could have a big impact both in our region and for BCNU within the next few years. Working together on this collaboratively, we can propel ourselves forward and make a difference.”

Walter Lumamba Co-Chair, South Fraser Valley

“I believe the BCNU election was the biggest milestone for the South Fraser Valley region this year largely due to a voter turnout of 24.8 percent. We have the largest region in the province and I was so impressed that a quarter of our members engaged in the democratic process and voted. That was a huge accomplishment.

“The union is only as strong as its members, so we want people to be involved. Know your rights, know your contract, and do what you can to participate. It’s important that members share information with your colleagues to increase awareness. I’m committed to engage more members, to go to worksites in the region and listen to their issues and concerns. We need our members to use their voices, and to file grievances for us to be successful and provide support. The only way change will happen is when people create it – so take the first steps!”

Hardev Bhullar Co-Chair, South Fraser Valley

“The union’s violence prevention campaign continues to be a very important initiative that impacts every single member across the province. The campaign has raised the awareness of both our members and the public on the prevalence of violence in the workplace. Our members are also learning about the importance of reporting incidents, and that they need to be vocal when they or their colleagues experience violence. Violence is simply not part of our job. Every member has the right to return safely home from work.

“Another highlight for South Islands region members this year was the issuing of damage awards. Currently practicing RN and RPN members were given a cheque for $350, which generated a lot of excitement. It was so important and appreciated for everyone involved.”

Margo Wilton Co-Chair, South Islands

“Bargaining was a priority for South Islands region members this year. An important aspect of this has been the finalizing of language we negotiated in the previous contract. While the contract was strong, there are always different interpretations of the language. The discussions that went forward during contract interpretation sessions and with the Ministry of Health were excellent. Our members on the Bargaining Committee brought a true understanding of what we were bargaining for and made sure that the interpretation was correct. There were also numerous joint education sessions for the professional responsibility process to ensure everyone was on the same page. We felt strongly unified, and those educating them on the process were both supportive and effective in guiding everyone through it.

“Looking forward, we will continue to focus on strong bargaining. The union’s bylaw review unchartered territory, but we are committed to supporting the current governance renewal process in the year ahead. We also want to make sure we use every opportunity to reach our members. If our nurses want to provide input and participate, we’ll make sure they have the ability to do that.”

Lynnda Smith Co-Chair, South Islands

“The BC wildfires had such a significant impact on our region in 2017. Many of our members were either evacuated or on alert, and their surroundings were in turmoil. It also impacted other nurses who had patients from the wildfire zones coming into their facilities, sometimes accompanied by staff but sometimes not. It was difficult and tumultuous experience for everyone.

“Through everything, we united across all levels to help people through this challenging time. Our members and communities welcomed the evacuated patients, residents, and staff with open arms, and I was so proud of them. These selfless nurses put aside their own families and issues to care for their patients, and that was amazing to see. Our union’s response was also great. BCNU made a donation to the Red Cross and a donation to the United Way recovery efforts after the fires. Everyone really came together.”

Tracy Quewezance Chair, Thompson North Okanagan

“Having confidence in our employer’s willingness to honour our contract language was the issue that mattered most to Vancouver Metro region members in 2017. Concerns were raised regarding special leave and the replacement and workload MOUs. Special leave in the case of a family member with a critical or severe illness was denied to members on an ongoing basis. We are now working to ensure that the employer shows greater compassion towards employee needs and requests. The information it requested at times was too personal and violated members’ privacy.

“There were also concerns about the lack of replacement and excess workload on units without enough staff. This is a problem in both acute hospitals and long-term care homes. Unfortunately, high acuity and low staffing levels make workload a critical issue even though we have strong language in the contract to address it. And despite filing many professional responsibility forms and taking grievances to the Nurse Relations Committee, change is something we are still waiting to see. Despite these challenges, our nurses are really trying to be a voice for positive change in the areas they work.”

Meghan Friesen Chair, Vancouver Metro

“The West Kootenay region has embraced BCNU’s new strategic plan. We’ve used it to create the framework for our regional goals, applied it to current concerns and campaigns in our region and made our own living document. It’s now laminated and we’ve taken it to every regional and executive meeting we attend. We put it up on the wall and ask members to evaluate our progress on issues and determine where we need more resources. We also plan to bring the plan to the local steward teams for their review. I want it to become a living, breathing document in their worksites as well.

“Promoting the union’s violence-prevention campaign and bringing the idea of psychologically healthy workplaces to the forefront have been my top priorities as regional chair. Members are really unified behind the position that nurses deserve to be safe at work. These issues are all part of our evolving strategic campaign, and we will continue to focus on them over the next three years.”

Ron Poland Chair, West Kootenay

Strategic Directions

Our 2018 priority is to strengthen our organization through sound governance and strong member advocacy.


By 2020 BCNU will have responded effectively to member issues through:

  • increased member activism using constructive engagement
  • supported and educated stewards
  • informed membership, that understands and enforces contract language
  • successful collective bargaining and implementation of agreements
  • timely resolution of member issues
  • increased diverse representation at all levels
  • protected and improved member health and safety

By 2020 BCNU Council will have effectively governed and all leaders throughout the organization will have modeled a culture based on our values through:

  • knowledge based and inclusive decisions by Council
  • regular review and approval of policies by Council
  • effective, responsive and clear communication
  • ensuring psychologically healthy and safe workplaces
Organizational Capacity and Culture

By 2020 BCNU will have strengthened organizational capacity and improved culture through:

  • implementing CSA Standards to create psychologically healthy and safe workplaces throughout the organization
  • enabling staff and activists to collaboratively educate and mentor members
  • providing seamless interdepartmental service to our members
  • utilizing technology to enhance communication
  • continued outreach to potential members about the benefits of belonging to BCNU
Professionalism, Relationships and Reputation

By 2020 BCNU will have demonstrated it is the professional voice of nursing and a respected, influential health care leader through:

  • exploring relationships with nursing and labour organizations
  • enhancing collaboration with stakeholders, including but not limited to government, HEABC, health authorities, education and research institutions
  • ensuring BCNU values are the foundation of our decisions, policies, procedures and actions
  • utilizing evidence and research for innovation
  • advocating for frontline nurses to be involved in public policy
  • engaging with government and health authority professional practice departments in health-care decision making
  • advancing clinical practice, education, mentorship, research and leadership in nursing
  • promoting our professional profile
  • collaborating with schools of nursing and nursing students
  • addressing societal inequities in our communities
Health-Care System

By 2020 BCNU will have remained a strong defender of a publicly funded and delivered health-care system through:

  • promoting its benefits
  • challenging its deficits and lobbying for improvement
  • researching and publicizing methods of strengthening care delivery

Where Your Dues Go

Occupational Health & Safety
Communications & Campaigns
Professional Practice & Advocacy
Regional Executives Support
Committees & Orientation
Human Rights & Equity
Convention & Conference
Observer to council
Donation & Election
Executive & Excluded Staff
Finance & Mortgage
Capital & IT

By the Numbers

2,403 grievances opened
6,063 grievances closed
616 WCB cases closed successfully
31,120 salary reimbursement days claimed by members
13,881 payments of 1% Retiree Fund
540 members attended Personal Resiliency Workshops
835 members received a member education bursary
11,032 total number of members attending BCNU events
331 members attended Steward Training
162 total members received education

How Staff Support You

Our staff provide important services for more than 47,000 BCNU members, in accordance with the BC Labour Relations Code. The following is a summary of our staff departments, and what they do:

Servicing/Labour Relations
  • member support and assistance with resolving workplace concerns (grievances through to arbitrations)
  • support members returning to work (duty to accommodate)
  • monitor classifications issues
  • negotiate independent contracts
Communications & Campaigns
  • communications support and management
  • manage BCNU website and Facebook
  • design services
  • media monitoring and media relations training
  • produce Update Magazine and eNews
Internal Departments
  • Human Resources
  • Finance
  • Information Technology
  • Library Services and Records Management (including Personal Information requests)
  • Administration
  • Convention and Conference services
  • Membership updates
Occupational Health & Safety
  • support and mentor members, stewards and regional representatives to address health and safety concerns
  • represent members in appeals of WCB decisions, including written submissions or representation at oral hearings
  • represent members with appeals related to LTD claims
  • administer the Enhanced Disability Management Program in a manner consistent with program principles and best practices
Professional Practice & Advocacy
  • assist members with licensing and practice issues
  • guide and assist members with the Professional Responsibility process
  • support BCNU Human Rights & Equity caucuses
  • research and create health policy and position statements
  • enhance the public’s knowledge of the nursing profession
  • growing our membership
  • outreach to new members
  • educating our stewards and members
As we look to 2018, we know there will always be new challenges and new opportunities ahead of us. Through our collective resilience, perseverance and dedication, we will rise to meet them. Together, we are people of the BC Nurses’ Union — standing up for health care.
Standing Strong.

We look forward to continuing to stand strong in 2018

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