Registed Nurses' Association of Ontario


Nurses and doctors ready to help Syrian refugees


Nurses and physicians say they are ready and willing to meet the health needs of Syrian refugees once they arrive in Ontario.

Leaders of the Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario (RNAO) and the Ontario Medical Association (OMA) know there are many challenges that lie ahead to ensure that all refugees receive the care they need, and their members have the expertise and know how to help.

"The health minister has informed us that Ontario will be a major entry point for many of the refugees coming to Canada. We want political leaders and the public to know that nurses and doctors stand united in our efforts to do everything we can to ensure the health and well-being of refugees settling here," says Vanessa Burkoski, RNAO's president.

"Doctors have always advocated for equitable access to health care for all refugees," says Dr. Mike Toth, OMA President. "When there are patients in need as result of conflicts, doctors have always stepped-up and responded swiftly." Dr. Toth adds that establishing a trusting relationship with their doctor will be a fundamental part of building a new, healthy and prosperous future for the refugees in Canada.

"Many of the refugees have gone through traumatic experiences. They have escaped war and horrible living conditions and have likely ignored their own health. We want to make their transition to life in a new country as easy as possible and ensuring their health needs are assessed early on by skilled primary care providers is key," says RNAO's CEO Doris Grinspun, adding that violence they may have experienced or witnessed means nurses and doctors will also have to pay particular attention to their mental health needs, especially children.

Both organizations say their members are proud that Canada is opening its doors to refugees and supporting them in their quest for a better life.

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-care system, and influenced decisions that affect nurses and the public they serve. For more information about RNAO, visit or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

The Ontario Medical Association (OMA) represents more than 34,000 physicians and medical students across the province. Ontario’s doctors work closely with patients to encourage healthy living practices and illness prevention. In addition to delivering front-line services to patients, Ontario’s doctors play a significant role in helping shape health care policy, as well as implementing initiatives that strengthen and enhance Ontario’s health-care system.

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

Nadia Daniell-Colarossi
Manager, Media Relations
Ontario Medical Association
(416) 340-2970 (office)
(416) 804-4600 (cellular)