Registed Nurses' Association of Ontario


Nurses need healthy workplaces to give patients the best possible care – in good times and bad: RNAO


Toronto, Nov. 16, 2005 – Whether nurses work in healthy environments or not is key to determining how well health-care professionals can respond to health emergencies. This was one of the many lessons learned following the 2003 SARS outbreak, and should be top-of-mind as countries worldwide plan for a possible flu pandemic.

The fundamentals necessary for sustaining healthy workplaces is the focus of this week’s Healthy Workplaces in Action conference, organized by the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO) Centre for Professional Nursing Excellence. Presentations from health-care experts from across Canada will include innovative approaches to recruiting and retaining nurses, improving the health and wellness of health-care workers, and addressing the needs of nurses in all sectors – all of which are necessary for quality patient care.

“A healthy work environment that nurtures all nurses wherever they work is crucial to ensuring patients receive the best care, especially during times of crisis,” says Irmajean Bajnok, executive director of RNAO’s Centre for Professional Nursing Excellence. “Despite the SARS experience, we still don’t have all the pieces in place to protect nurses and other health-care providers.”

Minister of Labour Steve Peters will welcome more than 200 health-care professionals, human resources executives and social scientists to the event, followed by the opening keynote presentation by world renowned researcher and author Linda Lee O’Brien-Pallas, RN, PhD. Ontario’s emergency management commissioner, Julian Fantino, will close the conference with a presentation about the challenges Ontario faces in preparing for emergencies.

Conference sessions include:

  • Toronto East General Hospital’s Employee Wellness Committee will outline various health and wellness programs implemented at the hospital to help health-care professionals and shift workers achieve a work-life balance.
  • Peel Health’s Healthy Babies Healthy Children program will present strategies to prevent or reduce anxiety and burnout of practitioners working with high-risk families.
    Credit Valley Hospital will share its approaches and outcomes to bridging the gap for internationally educated nurses, which include conducting focus groups, forming partnerships, and creating mentorship programs.
  • University Health Network will present the preliminary findings of an innovative staffing model aimed at retaining nurses and improving patient-centred care by allowing nurses to spend 20 per cent of their time on professional development and 80 per cent in direct patient care.
  • RN Robin Carrière, a health human resources consultant with the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI), will discuss the benefits of a national survey, to be released in 2006, on the work and health of nurses, a joint initiative by CIHI, Statistics Canada and Health Canada.
  • University of Windsor will share survey findings and practical strategies for recruiting and retaining community nurses through enhancing their work environments.

This conference complements RNAO’s ongoing work on healthy work environments best practices in six key areas including: workplace health and safety for nurses, cultural diversity, and leadership.

WHAT: Healthy Workplaces in Action 2005: Maintaining the Momentum Towards Positive Workplaces, the fifth annual international conference hosted by the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario, with support from the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.

WHO: Nursing leaders and keynote speakers/persons, including:

  • Welcome and Opening Remarks Hon. Steve Peters, minister of labour
  • Linda Lee O’Brien-Pallas RN, PhD, Professor at the Faculty of Nursing, University of Toronto; Co-Principal Investigator of Nursing Effectiveness, Utilization and Outcomes Research Unit; Nursing Best Practice Guidelines Panel Co-Chair, Workload and Staffing Guideline
  • Bob Koehler, motivational speaker
  • Julian Fantino COM, O.ONT, Commissioner of Emergency Management, Government of Ontario
  • Artword Theatre presents “Bringing Healthy work environments to life: A Shared Vision”

WHERE: Hilton Suites Toronto/Markham Conference Centre & Spa, 8500 Warden Avenue, Markham, Ontario, L6G 1A5


  • 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 17, 2005
  • 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Friday, Nov. 18, 2005

The Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO) is the professional association representing registered nurses wherever they practise 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