Meet RPN Noel Cheung
Noel is a registered practical nurse (RPN) at the Yee Hong Centre in Mississauga and chief steward with SEIU Healthcare. She started working at Yee Hong as a personal support worker (PSW) in 2004 and decided to make the transition to nursing after finding inspiration in the leadership and compassion of her colleagues.
“When I was a PSW, I saw how the nurses provided meaningful care to their senior patients as well as advocating for them and their families. I believe nursing is a very important job, so I trained to become an RPN and got my licence in 2010.”
She stresses that being an RPN is not just a profession to her, but also a “heart and soul experience.”
“My job is not just about giving my patients pills, dressing them, and maintaining good documentation practices. It’s also about being able to love people during their weakest moments.”
She brings that same mindset to her role as chief steward, which she has been in for three years now, and explains how she encouraged her members to get involved with their union.
“In my first two years of stewardship, I noticed our members were still quite passive about advocating for fairness, respect, or any other issues in our workplace. They seemed accustomed to our work environment at the time; they were not aware of their rights and didn’t understand how to truly exercise their collective agreement.”
“However, my fellow stewards and I did not give up on our members. We worked hard to assist them in creating a fairer working environment for all of us. Together with our members, we made a difference this year at our first informational picketing, which not only caught our employer’s attention but also gave us a voice in the community.”
With the help of SEIU Healthcare, Noel’s team and her members were able to come to an agreement with their employer this past August without going to arbitration. She also talks about other benefits of being part of the union:
“I am proud to be an SEIU Healthcare member. It not only supports members in seeking fairer pay, better working conditions, and job security, it also provides training courses and activities for members. The courses help members enhance their skills, while the activities bring members together and promote a work-life balance.”
Yee Hong will build a new nursing home in Mississauga, and Noel has plans to bring in new staff to join SEIU Healthcare. There is still much work to be done, and Noel shares the steps she will take to help create change at Yee Hong.
“I will continue motivating my colleagues to attend union events and speak out about their rights, as well as sharing their stories with their peers about the union. I will step into people’s lives, and I will make a difference.”