Last month more than 500 BCNU members travelled to Vancouver for our union's 36th annual convention. I was inspired and humbled to be surrounded by so many dedicated activists who care deeply about their profession, their co-workers, their patients and their communities.
As I stood on the steps of the Vancouver Art Gallery and looked out on a sea of white scrub tops, I was able to reflect on the power and unity of our gathering, and felt honoured to lead such an amazing group. This year's convention theme – "Rise Up" – truly reflected the passion and potential of the assembled delegates. But the theme also reflects the potential of every BCNU member to advocate for their rights and engage with their union in order to secure the practice conditions they and their patients deserve.
Convention is also an embodiment of one of BCNU's most important values: democracy. It's where members come together as the governing body of the union to debate and vote on resolutions, bylaws and any other business that arises.
But there's no better example of democracy in action than BCNU's elections. Everyone on the union's 25-member governing council is elected directly – one member, one vote – by colleagues and co-workers across the province. I think about democracy every June 11 – BCNU Day – which marks the establishment of BCNU as an independent democratic union.
As we conclude the BCNU elections held May 23 to June 2, I want to thank all those candidates who stepped forward to run for positons, and members who took the time to cast their ballots. I and others on the provincial executive committee now look forward to working with our new team members on council and focusing on important nursing issues.
There is cause for optimism in the months and years ahead. I anticipate sitting down with the new provincial health minister and working to advance nurses' professional influence within the public health care system and involvement in policy leadership that will allow all nurses to work to their full scope of practice and effectively respond to patient and population health needs.
That includes advocating for even more investment and action to address our province-wide opioid overdose crisis. I am horrified that April saw the second highest number of overdose fatalities ever recorded in BC. I know this situation impacts so many of us and I can assure you our efforts will continue to support our nurses who are on the front lines of this health crisis.
I also look forward to bargaining an even better collective agreement for nurses. I'm proud of what we were able to accomplish during the last round of Nurses' Bargaining Association contract negotiations. We built on previous bargaining successes and are now ready to get to work consulting members on their priorities before NBA bargaining begins again next year.
And as we look forward, let's rise up together to ensure that our fight for safe patient care continues. Whether making further progress on workload and staffing, protecting job security, advancing our professional practice or building a culture of workplace safety, let us be unwavering in our commitment to make a positive difference in our working lives and for our patients.
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