“This meeting presents an opportunity for RNs to come together and talk about nursing issues, and also the issues that affect the health of the people we care for,” says RNAO President Mary Ferguson-Pare. This year, members will vote on several resolutions that address factors that keep people healthy. That includes taking action to work with food banks across the province to ensure everyone has access to food, a basic determinant of health. Nurses will also vote on protecting children in cars by asking the government to raise the minimum age requirement for children to be in booster seats. RNAO President-Elect Wendy Fucile, who will be installed as the president on April 11, says these topics reflect the importance of this year’s AGM theme Nurses: Everyday Heroes.
“This year’s theme gives us the chance to reflect on the individual and collective power of our 27,000 members to make Ontario the best place to live and work,” Fucile says. “Nurses are involved in countless activities to improve the health for everyone in the province. They are fighting to protect Medicare; improving access to care through nurse-led clinics; and addressing issues like poverty and the environment that play a fundamental role in people’s health.”
Creating workplaces that are free from violence will also be up for discussion at this year’s meeting. RNs will talk about how to create safer work environments by implementing the Coroner’s inquest recommendations into the death of Lori Dupont, who was killed on the job in November, 2005.
The association will also have a chance to hear from politicians on these and other issues. Premier Dalton McGuinty, PC Party Leader John Tory and NDP Health Critic France Gelinas will all speak at the meeting, with Premier McGuinty scheduled to speak on Friday afternoon. Ferguson-Pare says it will provide a chance for RNAO members to hear key policy makers’ views on how health-care organizations can develop and maintain environments supportive of nursing recruitment and retention. “Employers must make sure that actions to balance budgets do not compromise the availability of nurses to provide care,” she says. “Patients need to know there will be nurses there 24/7 to provide safe, quality care.”
On Saturday, nurses will also learn about threats to Canada’s universally accessible health-care system in a presentation by Maude Barlow, National Chairperson of the Council of Canadians. Barlow will outline the dangers free trade and other political and economic agreements pose to Medicare. “Our universally accessible health-care system is under threat from people who would like to see it dismantled,” RNAO Executive Director Doris Grinspun says. “As the largest group of health-care professionals, nurses must, and will, continue to speak with one voice to protect and strengthen our publicly funded health-care system.”
RNAO’s 83rd Annual General Meeting opens tomorrow evening, April 10, and continues through to Saturday, April 12 at the Hilton Suites Toronto/Markham Conference Centre, 8500 Warden Ave. in Markham, Ontario.
Thursday, April 10, 7:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.:
Friday, April 11, 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.:
Saturday, April 12, 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.