The Association of Registered Nurses of BC (ARNBC) posted an open letter to nurses May 1, 2015 about a lawsuit filed by the British Columbia Nurses Union (BCNU). I feel it would be helpful to provide a short history of the association, regulator and labour union in B.C.

It is correct, BCNU is suing me, the College, the Association, and its president over the transfer of funds from the College to the Association. The nursing profession’s history in this province provides context for the current situation, and also allows us to differentiate and value each organization’s role.

Today, in 2015, as it should be, the regulatory, labour and association functions for nurses in B.C. are separate. Both the union (in 1981) and the association (in 2013) received funding to help them on their way. Three organizations, three distinct roles, no more conflicts of interest.

It is my wish that we can now move forward, collaborate and respect the value that each organization can and will play in making our BC health care system safer for the public. I invite you to share your comments below.

Timeline
1976 The Registered Nurses Association of BC (RNABC) establishes a Labour Relations Division to negotiate for fair wages and benefits for nurses. RNABC holds three roles at this time: regulator, advocate for the profession and labour negotiator. Read more — see page 3 of the pdf
1981 RNABC passes bylaws that support the Labour Relations Division separating from RNABC and forming the British Columbia Nurses Union (BCNU). It is recognized that continuing to house all three functions (advocate, regulator and labour negotiator) is a conflict of interest for the organization. In its formation, BCNU receives the assets of RNABC’s former Labour Relations Division, including its money (approximately $2.7 million in revenues/year) and people. RNABC retains its roles as regulator and advocate for the profession, and BCNU becomes the recognized labour union for nurses. Read more» — see page 13 of the pdf or visit the history of RNABC’s role in labour relations»
1992 BCNU passes a resolution at its convention resolving to lobby the provincial government to enact legislative changes that would remove regulator functions (licensing, registration, discipline, etc.) from RNABC and establish a college of nurses. BCNU believed that this was necessary because RNABC was in a conflict of interest holding both the regulator and membership services/professional advocacy role.
2005 RNABC becomes CNRBC through legislation enacted by government. As CRNBC, the association function held by the former RNABC erodes. This change leaves only two organizations for the profession in BC — regulator (CRNBC) and labour union (BCNU). Read more»
2010 CRNBC’s Board withdraws from the Canadian Nurses Association (CNA) after it concludes that remaining part of the national association is in conflict with CRNBC’s public interest mandate. Despite this withdrawal, CRNBC continues to transfer funds through an agreement with CNA to maintain a connection between BC RNs and NPs, and CNA. Read more»
2011 CNA and ARNBC jointly announced a commitment to work in partnership to ensure that the professional voice of BC nurses is heard and that the two organizations will develop an MOU. This would eventually lead to ARNBC being jurisdictional representative for BC to the CNA.
2012 CRNBC develops its philosophy as a relational regulator and begins making changes to its programs and services and further aligning its work to its public interest mandate. Read more»
2013 CRNBC’s Board approves a grant of $1.5M to ARNBC to support its establishment to take on services and programs previously and currently offered by RNABC/CRNBC such as the awards of excellence and management of professional liability protection program. The Board is clear that doing so is in the interest of the public. Read more»
2013 BCNU launches a civil claim against ARNBC and CRNBC over the provision of the grant, claiming that the funds used belong to the nurses of British Columbia. Note, ARNBC represents all nurses in the province and provides services to them in accordance with its bylaws and constitution.
I invite you to view this video about the history of nursing in B.C., which was prepared for the 2014 Nursing Excellence Awards