Policy and Political Action

Policy & Political Action

Demand that nurses be included in PTSD legislation

Thanks to the over 8,000 people who have responded to RNAO's action alert urging Premier Wynne to correct the shocking oversight of excluding nurses among the list of first responders covered by the Supporting Ontario's First Responders Act (Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, 2016). The government has committed to ensuring that nurses be included in this legislation, however, more than a year has gone by since RNAO first wrote to Premier Wynne on this issue. As we head into Nursing Week, we need to redouble our efforts so that the Premier gives good news to nurses. There is no doubt that we are first responders.

Legislators unanimously passed Bill 163 in April 2016, which gives Ontario's first responders a more direct path to treatment for PTSD. The bill is a major step toward eliminating barriers for suffering Ontarians, except for a glaring omission: the province's nurses.

In a Toronto Star article from April 5, 2016 Labour Minister Kevin Flynn suggested most nurses are not engaged in first-responder situations, and therefore don't deserve expedited coverage for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) under the bill. Where was the minister during SARS? Or when the Ebola scare hit Ontario? And how little does the minister know about what nursing entails?

When someone is rushed to hospital after a serious motor vehicle accident, who meets them in our emergency rooms? If a person overdoses on the doorstep of a community health centre, who is the first to try and save their life? In most cases, it's a nurse. And what about nurses in northern and rural parts of our province, who are often the only health professional to respond to emergencies in their communities?

Nurses witness trauma, suffering and death on a regular basis. They also suffer the highest rates of violence of any profession, and these tragic incidents continue to pile up.

Ontario should be commended for recognizing the struggles faced by many of its emergency workers, but leaving out nurses is a glaring and insulting oversight that must be immediately rectified.

Sign the action alert below addressed to:

  • Hon. Kathleen Wynne, Premier of Ontario
  • Hon. Eric Hoskins, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care
  • Hon. Kevin Flynn, Minister of Labour
  • Patrick Brown, Leader of the Official Opposition
  • Andrea Horwath, Leader of the New Democratic Party of Ontario
  • John Yakabuski, PC Critic for Labour and Training
  • Cindy Forster, NDP Critic for Labour, Fairness and Work
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