Registed Nurses' Association of Ontario

Ontario RNs head into 80th AGM eager and anxious about future of health care

Ontario RNs head into 80th AGM eager and anxious about future of health care


TORONTO, April 20, 2005 – More than 500 members of the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO) are heading into their 80th annual general meeting eager to accelerate health-care changes to improve patient care, but anxious that the upcoming Ontario budget and old habits could restrain reform.

RNAO president Joan Lesmond says RNs – and the public they serve – support the government’s expansion of primary health care through family health teams and salute its plan to bring more health services into the community through local health integration networks. She adds that the public needs not only more primary care, it also needs a new kind and quality of care – one based not on old-style medicine, but on a true collaboration in which patients work on their diverse health-care needs with the most appropriate member of the health-care team.

“Ontarians, including RNs, must be more than just witnesses to health-care reform; they must be part of it,” says Lesmond. “Nurses have a responsibility to use their knowledge, expertise and experience in patient and community care to enrich the lives of Ontarians – and help them prevent that which hinders their health,” she says.

RNAO executive director Doris Grinspun says that given the AGM theme, Learning from the past, acting in the present, and shaping the future, the association will celebrate how RNAO and nursing in Ontario has evolved and grown. RNAO will celebrate, for instance, the fact that in fewer than five years, its membership has increased by more than 50 per cent, growing from 14,738 in 2000 to 22,126 in 2005. “More than 22,000 members have chosen to join RNAO and make their voices count,” says Grinspun. “That is an incredible source of power which we will continue to use to improve the lives of nurses and the communities they serve.”

Nurses will take the opportunity to applaud the government for its work, such as funding for more full-time positions for RNs and more graduate nursing education. Lesmond says the association will be keeping a close eye on the upcoming budget to ensure that progress is made in meeting the government’s target of 8,000 new nursing recruits as well as its target to secure full-time employment for all RNs. Meeting these targets will mean better continuity and quality of nursing care for the Ontario public, says Lesmond.

“The government has taken many positive steps in the past year. We hope that all the steps in the next year will be in the right direction. We want to help the government deliver its promise to improve patient and community care – which you can’t do without enough nurses,” says Lesmond.

During the meeting, RNs will discuss how to improve elder health, elder care and gerontological nurse training – all vital to keeping seniors vibrant members of their communities. Nurses will concentrate on improving ways to recruit students into the profession and to foster young leaders to help transform the profession and shape health-care reform. “We target leadership at all levels and in all roles. From the bedside, to the street, to the boardroom, the knowledge and expertise of RNs must help improve patient care and shape health reform,” says Grinspun.

The AGM opens tomorrow evening, April 21, and continues through to Saturday, April 23. It is being held at the Hilton Suites Toronto/Markham Conference Centre, 8500 Warden Avenue, Markham, Ontario.

Highlights include:

Thursday, April 21:

  • Stakeholders Reception (6 to 7 p.m.)
  • Procession of Leaders (7 p.m.)
  • Health and Long-Term Care Minister Smitherman to make announcement (7:30 p.m.)
  • Remarks from Deputy PC Leader Elizabeth Witmer and NDP Leader Howard Hampton (7:40 to 8:00 p.m.)

Friday, April 22:

  • Video greeting from Premier Dalton McGuinty (10:30 a.m.)
  • Keynote address by Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities Mary Anne Chambers at Student’s Leadership
  • Lunch (12:30 to 1:00 p.m.)
  • Results of three-way race for position of RNAO’s president-elect (2005-2006) (2 p.m.)
  • Sneak preview of movie trailer for Plague City, a human and political thriller chronicling the transmission of SARS from a small town in China, across borders and to Ontario. Registered nurses are behind and in front of the scenes during this made-for-tv movie, which will air on CTV Sun., May 29. (3:30 p.m.)
  • Presentation of RNAO recognition awards, Media Awards, and remarks by Progressive Conservative Leader John Tory at the President’s Banquet (7:00 to 9:30 p.m.)

Saturday, April 23:

  • Author Suzanne Gordon delivers keynote address and launches her book, Nursing Against the Odds: How Health Care Cost Cutting, Media Stereotypes, and Medical Hubris Undermine Nurses and Patient Care (11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.)

The Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO) is the professional association representing registered nurses wherever they practice in Ontario. Since 1925, RNAO has lobbied for healthy public policy, promoted excellence in nursing practice, increased nurses’ contribution to shaping the health-care system, and influenced decisions that affect nurses and the public they serve.

For more information, please contact:
Marion Zych, Director of Communications, RNAO
Phone: 416-408-5605
Toll free: 1-800-268-7199 ext.209
Cell: 647-406-5605