Sharleen Stewart stands up for RPNs


October 28, 2013
SEIU Healthcare
125 Mural Street
Richmond Hill, ON
L4B 1M4

Dr. Sue Matthews

Interim President & CEO Executive VP / Chief Nursing

Niagara Health System Corporate Office
1200 Fourth Ave
St. Catharine’s, ON
L2S 0A9

Dear Dr. Matthews,

I am writing to you on behalf of the more than 9,000 RPNs represented by SEIU Healthcare. 

As you are no doubt aware, the article in which you were quoted appearing in the St. Catharine’s Standard on Thursday, October 10, also quoted Ms. Loretta Tirabassi-Olinski, President of the Ontario Nurses Association (ONA) Local 26 stating, ”patients have better results when treated by RNs rather than registered practical nurses. More RNs results in better patient outcomes, resulting in fewer re-admissions.”    

To my knowledge there have been no Canadian studies to back up this claim put forward by Ms.Tirabassi-Olinskiand ONA. By allowing ONA to repeatedly make this unfounded claim is contributing to a toxic work environment in the Niagara Health System (NHS) and this is why I was very disappointed to learn that you have taken no steps to publically or privately support the RPNs who do such valuable work for the NHS.

This is partially puzzling given your most recent acceptance of the Registered Practical Nurses Association of Ontario Employer of Excellence Award which recognizes and honours employers that have demonstrated outstanding achievement in improving the utilization of RPNs in innovative and creative ways; creating a multi-disciplinary team environment for all health care workers; and maintaining a safe, respectful and empowering work environment where RPNs can work to the full scope of their knowledge, skills and judgment.

The RPNs I represent are dedicated, caring individuals that are more than qualified and are a critical component of a cost effective and efficient healthcare system. Many of them have shared their disappointment that there has been no response from NHS. In the future when the competency of RPNs is challenged publically, it would be helpful to know that the President & CEO of the organization they work for valued their efforts in ensuring we all provide the best healthcare possible to the people of Niagara Region.

Yours sincerely,


 Sharleen Stewart

President, SEIU Healthcare

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