SEIU Healthcare and CUPE’s Ontario Council of Hospital Unions release data showing the trauma and turmoil experienced by RPNs

Toronto, Ontario — SEIU Healthcare and CUPE’s Ontario Council of Hospital Unions are launching nursing week with an urgent please of support for registered practical nurses (RPNs). The two unions released polling and survey data showing trauma and turmoil experienced by RPNs on the frontline of our healthcare system.

Registered practical nurses are carrying the weight of a pandemic on their shoulders without the financial or emotional support they need. Low staffing levels in our hospitals mean the work is dangerous and causing mental and physical exhaustion. And a reliance on part-time employment means RPNs continue to go without adequate paid sick days.

It is incumbent upon the Premier Ford’s government and the Ontario Hospital Association to immediately authorize the resources necessary to provide:

  1. Increased staffing levels with full-time jobs that come with permanent wage increases above the rate of inflation that can only come with an exemption from Bill 124
  2. Guaranteed access to mental health support
  3. Safe working conditions with full PPE, on-site second dose vaccinations, and paid sick days

SEIU Healthcare and CUPE’s Ontario Council of Hospital Unions represent approximately 80,000 workers in Ontario’s hospital system, including about 20,000 registered practical nurses (RPNs).


  • 93% of RPNs report experiencing mental and physical exhaustion
  • 66% of RPNs report seeing a co-worker experiencing violence at work
  • 37% of Toronto based RPNs considering leaving the profession due to low pay
  • 1 in 3 RPNs were denied paid time off when forced to isolate due to COVID-19


“Research show us that denying registered practical nurses fair wages and safe staffing levels mean our hospitals are about to experience an exodus of frontline staff. The burnout is real and decision makers must heed the warnings. Nurses cannot continue to take on more work done by fewer staff—staff who are now carrying the emotional and physical weight of a pandemic. Premier Ford’s government made hallway healthcare worse and allowed wait times to grow, all before the pandemic hit us. In the aftermath of the pandemic, we’re asking for a better deal for Ontario’s registered practical nurses.” Sharleen Stewart, President of SEIU Healthcare

“Our polling paints a stark picture of exhausted nurses who feel unvalued and unsupported. A large number are considering leaving nursing. At every turn, doors have been slammed in their faces. Refused the protective equipment they need to work safely. Not fully vaccinated despite working with Covid-19 patients. Not being paid if they catch Covid-19 at work and must take 10 days off. Told to accept real wage cuts. Nurses have really stepped up for the people of Ontario during this crisis and they deserve so much more from their government than platitudes.” Michael Hurley, President of CUPE’s Ontario Council of Hospital Unions