Policy and Political Action

Policy & Political Action

Tell Minister Hoskins to issue an independent investigation into the termination of Dr. Burkoski from her position at LHSC

Over 3,200 have asked Minister Hoskins to issue an independent investigation into the termination of Dr. Burkoski from her position at London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC).

Support is pouring in for Dr. Vanessa Burkoski, RNAO's immediate past-president who was fired from her role as Chief Nursing Executive and Vice President of Professional Scholarly Practice at London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC) shortly after speaking out about concerns for patient safety.

Since June 24, more than 3,000 nurses and members of the public have signed RNAO's call for Minister of Health Eric Hoskins to launch an independent investigation into Dr. Burkoski's termination, and create protections for nurses who speak out publicly about patient safety. If you haven't already, we ask you to join us in standing beside Dr. Burkoski, and send a message that nurses will not be silenced.

LHSC will not comment on her termination other than to confirm she is no longer an employee. However, Dr. Burkoski – with the full support of RNAO – has decided to go public about the reason for her dismissal, which involves the role she played in the release of RNAO’s report Mind the Safety Gap in Health System Transformation: Reclaiming the Role of the RN.

The report highlights the growing number of RNs who are being replaced with less qualified health professionals at hospitals across Ontario. Health organizations are doing this in a misguided attempt to cut costs and against evidence that shows patients have better health outcomes when they are cared for by RNs. Although the report does not specifically name hospitals, we know this has been the practice at several organizations.

RNAO’s report makes eight recommendations to the Minister of Health including legislating, within two years, an all-RN nursing workforce in acute care hospitals – starting with tertiary, quaternary and cancer centres, and within five years in large community hospitals with more than 100 beds. The report also calls on hospitals to implement organizational models of care delivery that avoid fragmentation of care and advance continuity of care and caregiver.

After the report was released, Dr. Burkoski was called into the office of her CEO and was offered, on three separate occasions, money in exchange for a graceful resignation. She refused and was subsequently terminated. It is clear RNAO’s immediate past president was fired for speaking out. It is also clear that RNAO members will not sit quietly when nurses are muzzled or fired if they choose to speak out. Never in the 91 years of RNAO’s history has a member of the association’s executive been fired by their employer for speaking out on behalf of RNAO. We must make sure this is the last time.

RNAO and its members are standing with Dr. Burkoski, and have been actively supporting her and informing the public. Witness the impact we’ve had in the media (see list of stories below). We’ve also mounted an effective social media campaign with the hashtag #SilenceNoMore. The campaign has been noticed by Ontario policy-makers. The two opposition parties have issued statements (see NDP and PC statements). Now we call for action from Ontario's Minister of Health Dr. Eric Hoskins.

Dr. Burkoski’s integrity, resolve and courage are an inspiration to us all. She is a living example of RNAO’s mandate: “Speaking out for nursing, speaking out for health.”
RNAO calls on Minister Hoskins to:

  1. Issue an independent investigation into the termination of Dr. Burkoski from her position at LHSC.
  2. Take all measures in his power to protect health professionals from retaliation when speaking about patient safety.
  3. Stop RN replacement immediately, and move to implement all the recommendations in RNAO’s report Mind the Safety Gap in Health System Transformation: Reclaiming the Role of the RN
  4. .
    RNAO urges all nurses, other health practitioners and their association leaders, as well as members of the public to mobilize, so there is #SilenceNOmore in our health organizations, because silence compromises patient safety and quality.

Here is what you can do:
Sign the action alert below addressed to:
Honourable Minister Eric Hoskins, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care
CC to:
Premier Kathleen Wynne
Patrick Brown, Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario
Andrea Horwath, Leader of the New Democratic Party of Ontario
Jeff Yurek, PC Critic – Health and Long-Term Care
France Gélinas, NDP Critic – Health and Long-Term Care

Share this action alert with your family, friends, colleagues, neighbours, and networks urging them to sign.

Please enter your full name
Please enter your email address.
Please select your profession
Email Subject
Email body
Additional action

We know many of you would like to take further action.

If you are on Twitter, please send out a message indicating how you feel about what’s happened. Follow @RNAO and RNAO’s CEO @DorisGrinspun and retweet. Urge others to do the same.

If you are on Facebook, visit London Health Sciences Centre’s Facebook page and post a comment to let them know how you feel. And share with your friends.

Comment on articles that appear online and send letters to the editor to both national, provincial and local newspapers.

Print copies of the articles that appeared in newspapers (see Resources above) and post them in bulletin boards in your workplace. Talk to your colleagues at work. Connect with your RNAO chapter and/or interest group and discuss how you can take action.