130 RNAO leaders to highlight critical issues related to COVID-19 with Ontario’s political leaders

Feb. 23, 2021

As Ontario prepares to receive large deliveries of COVID-19 vaccines, 130 nurse leaders are preparing to meet Ontario’s premier, deputy premier and all other party leaders for the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario’s (RNAO) 21st annual Queen’s Park Day, this Thursday,  Feb. 25, 2021.

The virtual event will feature assembly leaders composed of registered nurses (RN), nurse practitioners (NP) and nursing students that represent RNAO in all regions of Ontario, and practise in all roles and sectors. They will share their perspectives to inform healthy public policies in the midst of a deadly and relentless year-long pandemic.

Top of mind during this year’s meeting is the state of health system transformation. Nurses point to the government’s over-reliance on hospitals to store and administer vaccines as one example of a system that is still focused on a hospital-centric approach to health care at the expense of other sectors, and ultimately, the public. They say a bold and robust plan is needed to mitigate the virus with public health measures, and to accelerate the pace of the vaccine rollout and get doses into the arms of people who need them most, particularly seniors 60 and older, and other vulnerable populations.

“There’s no question that COVID-19 has provided plenty of lessons from which the government can learn. One lesson is to let hospitals focus on caring for the very sick and to utilize thousands of public health, primary care and home care nurses, and other community-based health providers such as physicians and pharmacists, to vaccinate Ontarians,” says RNAO CEO Dr. Doris Grinspun. Relying on health providers in public health, primary care and home care will reduce the number of people who contract the virus, including variants now taking hold in communities, and protect those most vulnerable from dying, adds Grinspun.

Nurses also plan to raise issues that existed long before the pandemic and which have been magnified as a result, including severe staffing shortfalls in long-term care (LTC) homes and an opioid crisis that shows no signs of abating. RNAO says it is determined to honour the 3,800 lives lost in LTC homes and the more than 2,200 people who have died due to opioid overdose by insisting on proposals to improve care. 

One highlight of the day will be the release of the task force report examining the role of NPs, the value they bring to the health system and recommendations to increase their numbers and expand their scope in the province. The pandemic has underscored how crucial NPs are to Ontario’s health system. Maximizing the utilization of this role is essential to improve timely access to quality care, says RNAO. 

“Nurses are unwavering in our commitment to Ontarians and to improving our health system; and we know the government values what we have to say and what we bring to the table. That’s why we look forward to this annual event. The voices of nurses have never been more critical than they are right now,” says RNAO president Morgan Hoffarth.

What: RNAO’s 21st annual Queen’s Park Day and release of the NP Task Force Report: Vision for Tomorrow.

Who: Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario

  • RNAO President Morgan Hoffarth
  • RNAO CEO Dr. Doris Grinspun and co-chair of the NP Task Force
  • More than 130 RNs, NPs and nursing students and RNAO nursing leaders
  • Hon. Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health at 3:30 p.m.
  • Andrea Horwath, leader of the official opposition and NDP leader at 4 p.m. and France Gélinas, NDP MPP and health critic
  • Steven Del Duca, leader of the Liberal Party of Ontario at 4:30 p.m. and John Fraser, health critic
  • Mike Schreiner, leader of the Green Party of Ontario at 5 p.m.
  • Dr. Elissa Ladd, co-chair of the NP Task Force at 6 p.m.
  • Hon. Doug Ford, Premier of Ontario will bring closing remarks at 7:20 p.m.

Complete details, including the full list of speakers can be found in the event agenda.

When: Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021 from 3 to 7:30 p.m. (ET)

Where: This is a virtual event. Media interested in attending can watch via our livestream coverage beginning at 3 p.m. At 6 p.m. (ET), members of the media are also invited to watch the release of RNAO’s NP Task Force report Vision for Tomorrow. Reporters are asked to sign in with their name and media outlet.

Please join us via Zoom using the following link, login and password:

Login: 84258968129
Passcode: 962015

The Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO) is the professional association representing registered nurses, nurse practitioners and nursing students in Ontario. Since 1925, RNAO has advocated for healthy public policy, promoted excellence in nursing practice, increased nurses’ contribution to shaping the health system and influence decisions that affect nurses and the public they serve. For more information about RNAO, visit our website at RNAO.ca or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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For more information, or to arrange an interview with a nurse, please contact:

Contact info
Marion Zych
Director of Communications
Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario (RNAO)