Protecting Ontarians and leading change: RNAO’s 96th Annual General Meeting celebrates nurses

June 24, 2021

The Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario’s (RNAO) 96th Annual General Meeting (AGM) celebrates nurses’ resilience, dedication and achievements during a pandemic year. Taking place Thursday, June 24 to Saturday, June 26, its theme is Protecting Ontarians and Leading Change: Nurses and RNAO during COVID-19. This is the second virtual AGM in the association’s history.

“Our colleagues have been unwavering in assuming the challenge of nursing Ontarians throughout this lengthy pandemic. This year’s AGM honours nurses’ steadfast commitment to protecting Ontarians with expertise, compassion and courage. The potent, collective voice of more than 46,000 RNAO members – RNs, NPs and nursing students – shows the strength of the nursing community. We celebrate RNAO and its members’ vital role leading change to improve health for all – especially vulnerable populations,” says Dr. Doris Grinspun, RNAO CEO.

“Our impactful voice has led in the fight against COVID-19 and ensured nurses were informed and supported. Through weekly webinars, a COVID-19 portal, the VIANurse program connecting nurses with health organizations, powerful traditional and social media presence, Action Alerts, a widely-read blog, policy papers, government decision-making tables, advocacy for vulnerable populations, and taking direct calls from RNs, NPs, nursing students and members of the public – RNAO pushes the envelope and demands action,” adds Grinspun.

“RNAO is demanding a fix for health-system gaps underscored by the pandemic. Our hearts are broken since we lost thousands of lives in long-term care due to deficient staffing and an inadequate skill mix,” says RNAO President Morgan Hoffarth. “The crisis that overwhelmed critical care services during the third wave was aggravated by insufficient numbers of RNs and NPs in the health system and by less than adequate numbers of specialized critical care RNs and NPs. This meant panic for severe COVID-19 patients (and their families) whose lives hinged on that critical care. This meant desperation for Ontarians who were deprived of cancer and other non-COVID-19 services. This meant trauma and exhaustion for health workers who were brought to the brink by reckless past and present policy decision-making.”

Common among these cracks in the system is the fact that Ontario has the lowest RN-per-population ratio in Canada, and politicians of all stripes bear this responsibility. RNAO’s Work and Wellbeing Survey reveals that Ontario’s health system is at risk post-pandemic. Ontario’s already understaffed nursing workforce faces the potential of significant depletion in its aftermath.

RNAO is calling for a nursing summit this summer to address nursing human resource needs and is inviting politicians and policymakers to participate. “We went into this pandemic 19,000 RNs short and we stand to lose more RNs once the pandemic is over. We need a real plan and that’s why we are issuing this call to action. It will take more than bonuses to shore up our RN needs,” says Hoffarth, referring to a practice some hospitals are adopting to retain RNs.

“The pandemic didn’t slow RNAO’s work on best practice guidelines (BPG) and influencing healthy public policy,” Hoffarth adds. “It is a thrill to launch our Promoting 2SLGBTQI+ Health Equity BPG and position statement on respecting sexually and gender diverse communities. The release coincides with Pride Weekend. RNAO will continue to push for a just recovery for all Canadians, especially vulnerable populations.” You can see this ongoing work in the association’s call for a Nursing Home Basic Care Guarantee and standards for long-term care, for national pharmacare, for an end to the opioid overdose crisis, increasing sick days and boosting minimum wage, and addressing the highly unequal effects of the virus.

“My first year as president has been intense and inspiring and I can’t wait to see what else our association and our members achieve,” a proud Hoffarth says.

The three-day event kicks off with speeches from top politicians and nursing leaders, followed by interactive opportunities and engaging surprises:  

  • Celebrating 21 Canadian and international Best Practice Spotlight Organization (BPSO) designates for their commitment to evidence-based practice by implementing RNAO BPGs.
  • Presenting annual Recognition Awards to 16 recipients for their contributions to nursing.
  • Honouring the best in health-care reporting with the association’s annual Media Awards. 

Visit our AGM portal to stay updated on the latest information related to this event.

Highlights include:

Thursday, June 24, 6– 7:30 p.m. ET

  • Hon. Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, at 6:10 p.m.
  • Mike Schreiner, Leader, Green Party of Ontario, at 6:30 p.m.
  • Andrea Horwath, Leader of the Official Opposition, Ontario New Democratic Party, at 6:40 p.m.
  • Steven Del Duca, Leader, Ontario Liberal Party, at 7 p.m.
  • Richard Ricciardi, President, Sigma Theta Tau, at 7:05 p.m.
  • Annette Kennedy, President, International Council of Nurses, at 7:10 p.m.
  • Celebration of 21 Best Practice Spotlight Organization (BPSO) designates at 7:15 p.m.
  • Hon. Rod Phillips, Minister of Long-Term Care, at 7:25 p.m.

Friday, June 25, 4 – 8 p.m. ET

  • CEO Dr. Doris Grinspun delivers her annual Report to members at 4:05 p.m.
  • Hon. Doug Ford, Premier of Ontario, addresses members and guests at 4:30 p.m.
  • President Morgan Hoffarth announces results of One member, one vote at 5 p.m.
  • Consultation session on 2021 proposed resolutions (18 in all) at 5:15 p.m.
  • Presentation of RNAO Recognition Awards and Media Awards at 7:30 p.m.
  • Introduction of 2021 – 2022 board of directors at 7:40 p.m.
  • President Morgan Hoffarth delivers her Report to members at 7:45 p.m.

Saturday, June 26, 10:45 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.

  • Launch and media conference for Promoting 2SLGBTQI+ Health Equity BPG at 10:45 a.m.
  • Closing keynote panel: Protecting Ontarians and leading change: The COVID-19 pandemic as viewed through the eyes and experiences of nurses at 12 p.m.

Members of the media are welcome to watch via RNAO’s livestream.

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 they serve. For more information about RNAO, visit or follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


Contact info

Madison Scaini
Communications Officer/Writer
Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario (RNAO)
Victoria Alarcon
Communications Officer/Writer
Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario (RNAO)