Registed Nurses' Association of Ontario

Nurses call failed talks in Copenhagen an embarrassment

Nurses call failed talks in Copenhagen an embarrassment


TORONTO, Dec. 21, 2009 – An historic opportunity to reach a much needed agreement on climate change has been squandered due to a lack of political will, nurses say.

The Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO) says the world’s top political leaders, including Prime Minister Stephen Harper, will point to the deal reached late Friday as a “first step” but that claim rings hollow for nurses and millions of other Canadians for whom the environment and the impacts of climate change are top-of-mind issues says the association’s President Wendy Fucile.

Fucile points to the lack of targets for emissions cuts and the fact that the agreement isn’t binding as evidence of how little was accomplished.

“The scientific data is overwhelming and the lack of leadership and strong action from Canada is deeply disturbing because nurses know how global warming is dangerous for our health and our patients,” says Fucile.

Doris Grinspun, RNAO’s executive director, says the failure to act is inexcusable given the broad consensus on the evidence and urgent calls to action from the association and others across the country. In the days leading up to the summit, more than 1,000 RNs wrote letters to the Prime Minister imploring him to assume Canada’s traditional proud role as a leader in convincing other nations of the urgency to act.

“It’s clear Mr. Harper wasn’t listening but we urge him to step up and lead on this issue,” she says adding “Canada is a wealthy nation that is playing a negative role in global warming through decades of high per capital emissions.”

Grinspun adds RNAO will continue to demand action on climate change. “Nurses care about climate change, nurses have power and nurses vote. Our political leaders must understand that the environment is an urgent priority that we can’t afford to ignore.”

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 about RNAO and its views on environmental issues, visit our website at You can also check out our Facebook page at or follow us on Twitter at


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