Evelyn Belchior has been a Registered Practical Nurse (RPN) since 1995, and currently specializes in psychiatric nursing at Niagara Health. Having worked for many years in the emergency department, her sense of social justice and drive for political action in the healthcare system are in full force. As an SEIU Healthcare member, she shares her sentiments about collective action in the everchanging healthcare industry.
“I believe in the things SEIU Healthcare does, such as social justice and medical care for all. Every family in Canada should have housing, food, and affordable and accessible healthcare. Unions represent a collective body to do the right thing. They don’t choose to do good things just for themselves, but for others as well. The healthcare system isn’t just serving the people who have helped to created it – it serves everybody. The recent minimum wage increase didn’t affect union members as much as general society, and most of us have medication coverage as unionized workers, but a lot of Canadians don’t, so we try to ensure everybody has those same rights.”
Change is inevitable in healthcare, and Evelyn emphasizes the need to maintain these rights and other basic needs.
“Healthy bodies don’t exist if we don’t have affordable housing, clean water, healthcare, socialization, and good nutrition. People shouldn’t have to make a choice between one of those necessities and another. This links political action with healthcare. I’ve worked in many areas of healthcare and have come to embrace political action. If our political leaders are not made aware of the challenges in healthcare, they may not support the changes required to maintain one of the most fundamental Canadian values - accessible quality healthcare for all.
“No matter what sector of the healthcare system you work in as a nurse, there are always ways to make things work better, whether in long-term care, homecare, mental health and addictions, or acute hospital care. Making a positive impact in improving the lives of the patients you care for helps you to not be stagnant in your profession, and it drives positive change for your profession and community.”
Nursing is a growing profession that requires constant learning and a natural want to care for people. For over two decades, Evelyn has made this her life, and is a strong advocate for its growth.
“I never thought of being anything else – nursing chose me. I love the idea of being able to help people, and when you widen your care to a whole population of people, you’re constantly changing to help even more people in better ways.”
Evelyn is also a mentor for new nurses and offers this advice to them, pointing out that education is a two-way street:
“Embrace mentorship; seek a mentor for yourself, but also mentor new colleagues and nurses. It’s very rewarding and provides a learning experience. With every student I’ve encountered, I’ve learned something new, which allows me to prepare myself as well as the next generation of nurses to carry out the work that needs to be done. Nurses also shouldn’t be afraid to embrace their political side, their union, and their professional associations; this is where we can all come together to generate great ideas and continue to foster positive change.”