Registed Nurses' Association of Ontario


Government announces new powers for nurses to advance quality care


TORONTO, April 8, 2011 – The pivotal role that registered nurses play in Ontario’s health-care system is being expanded following a speech by Premier Dalton McGuinty at a meeting of over 700 registered nurses Friday in Toronto.

The Premier, addressing members of the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO) during the organization’s 86th Annual General Meeting (AGM), acknowledged the changes his government made to the province’s Public Hospitals Act that require Chief Nurse Executives to be a member of a hospital’s board and their quality committees. The changes came into effect this January.

RNAO President David McNeil describes these requirements as extremely important. “I’m a Chief Nurse Executive at Sudbury Regional Hospital and the news ultimately translates into better patient care. Nurses who have a hand in the decision-making when it comes to running a hospital will make improvements that will help patients recover better and faster and improve the overall efficiency of the health-care system.”

The Premier received a standing ovation when he announced that his government was mandating all 37 public health units in the province to appoint a Chief Nursing Officer (CNO) by next year. Currently, only six public health units have a CNO in place. Reacting to the news, McNeil called it a progressive step that nurses have been wanting for years. “The leadership of nurses is essential in health promotion, disease prevention and during serious outbreaks such as a pandemic. The majority of health-care workers in public health units are nurses so it’s critical to have a Chief Nursing Officer at the highest level of decision making,”  adding that the requirement will also strengthen the ability of nurses to respond during public health emergencies.

The Premier was greeted with the longest standing ovation ever when he announced that nurse practitioners (NPs) will have their powers extended to admit and discharge patients in hospitals. “This is extremely important news for nurse practitioners and more importantly for patients in Ontario,” says Doris Grinspun, RNAO’s Executive Director. “With these changes, the government is recognizing the expertise of NPs and the increased contribution they can make to health-care delivery.”

“Nurse practitioners are a central part of Ontario’s health-care system. Authorizing them to admit and discharge hospital patients maximizes their contribution and improves patients’ access to care,” says Michelle Acorn, President, Nurse Practitioners’ Association of Ontario (NPAO) adding that “the province’s solid leadership advances the quality care agenda and will lead to better patient outcomes.”  

The Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario is the professional association representing registered nurses in Ontario. Since 1925, RNAO has advocated 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.

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Other quotes:
“Chief Nursing Officers will raise the bar on quality. Nurses who work in public health will be able to provide better services and that means improved health outcomes for the people of Ontario.” says Katie Dilworth, President of the Community Health Nurses' Initiatives Group (CHNIG), which is part of RNAO.

“We are pleased to hear of the government’s further recognition of nursing leadership in public health.  We look forward to working with the Ministry of Health and RNAO in developing the roles and responsibilities of the position,” says Jo Ann Tober, Executive Director of the Association of Nursing Directors and Supervisors in Official Health Agencies in Ontario (ANDSOOHA).
“This announcement recognizes the executive leadership capacity of registered nurses to improve patient care,” says Sue Roger of the Nursing Leadership Network of Ontario (NLN) adding that this is not only good for nurses; it’s good for hospitals and critical for patients.

“This move will have a direct impact on patient and organizational outcomes as Chief Nurse Executives have a hand on the pulse of day to day patient care and evidence at their fingertips,” says Karima Velji, speaking for the Chief Nursing Executive of Academic Hospitals of Ontario (CNE-AHO)

To arrange an interview with a nurse or for more information, please contact:

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