Gov’t investments in primary care an important step to address nurses’ longstanding asks

Feb. 1, 2024

The Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO) is delighted with the provincial government’s announcement of $110 million in additional funding to support 53 new and 25 expanded interprofessional teams in primary care, including funding nurse practitioner (NP)-led clinics in communities across Ontario. One of RNAO’s longstanding asks, the clinics will help improve access to health care for Ontarians and alleviate pressures on hospital ERs.

“For more than two decades, RNAO and its members have been at the forefront advocating that the government adopt innovative primary care models involving NPs – especially given the family physician shortage – so we welcome this news with open arms,” says RNAO President Dr. Claudette Holloway, noting that the funding is an important step towards ensuring the 2.2 million Ontarians currently without a primary care provider can get the care they need.

“Utilizing NPs’ advanced knowledge allows more people to receive care without having to wait in emergency departments or walk-in clinics. Now that they have the green light to expand and open additional clinics, NPs can hit the ground running and remove the barriers that have prevented access to primary care,” adds Holloway. NPs can conduct comprehensive physical exams, independently diagnose and treat illnesses, order and interpret diagnostic tests, prescribe treatments and medication, and more – thanks to RNAO’s persistent advocacy efforts to expand NPs’ scope of practice.

“Today’s investment is the beginning of a renewed emphasis on primary care that has long been needed in the province and a sign the government understands the magnitude of access shortfalls in primary care,” says RNAO CEO Dr. Doris Grinspun. “Nurses will continue to partner with government and others who recognize that the foundation of a high performing health system has its roots in a strong, publicly funded and not-for-profit primary care sector. We will continue to advocate until everyone in Ontario is attached to a primary care provider, without having to pay out of pocket,” emphasizes Grinspun.

Thursday’s news follows an important move made last November when the government announced expanded authority for registered nurses (RN) to prescribe certain medications across many health sectors. “The expansion of primary care, and – in particular, the enhanced utilization of NP expertise alongside RN prescribing – will unlock timely, safe and quality care,” says Grinspun, who points out that better care and health outcomes also lead to lower system costs – a win for Ontarians as patients and as taxpayers. “We are pleased that the government is demonstrating commitment to publicly funded team-based primary care, which will begin transforming the health system for all, especially for marginalized and vulnerable populations.”

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 influenced decisions that affect nurses and the public we serve. For more information about RNAO, visit or follow us on X (formerly Twitter)Facebook and Instagram.

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Contact info

Madison Scaini
Communications Officer/Writer
Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario (RNAO)
Marion Zych
Director of Communications
Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario (RNAO)