RNAO leaders hit the road to discuss health-care priorities

Oct. 4, 2019

Two prominent nursing leaders are set to check in with nurses across the province to hear the nursing and health issues they believe should be front and centre for political leaders during Ontario’s health system transformation and for Canada’s new government.

The Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario’s (RNAO) president Dr. Angela Cooper Brathwaite and chief executive officer Dr. Doris Grinspun will be visiting registered nurses (RN), nurse practitioners (NP) and nursing students in their communities throughout October and November as part of the association’s fifth-annual Fall Tour. 

“The tour provides nurses with an opportunity to share their experiences and where we can do better to meet the health needs of Ontarians,” says Brathwaite. “RNs and NPs are the backbone of our health system. They can give Ontarians and the new federal government valuable insight on how health policies of the day are affecting their practice and the well-being of the populations they serve. 

As the professional association for 42,000 RNs, NPs, and nursing students, RNAO has listened to what members have had to say and what they’d like to see from the new government. In September, RNAO released its policy platform A platform for a healthy Canada to highlight the issues that nurses have been vocal about. It includes nine recommendations that cover four areas: access to care, social determinants of health, the environment and fiscal capacity.  

“Health is about health care and more. Our economic and social circumstances affect our health and so does the environment,” says Grinspun. “Nurses are looking to the federal government to act on our recommendations and invest in services that will put Canadians first.” 

Issues that members are advocating for include setting up a national pharmacare program, coverage for dental and home care services, ensuring supervised consumption sites are available and funded where needed, and re-instating the national chief nursing officer role. 

“The role of the chief nursing officer is critical to nurses’ influence in government policy, and Canada lags behind other countries. This was the central message by Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, World Health Organization director general, when he met with Canadian nurses at the International Council of Nurses Congress this past June,” says Grinspun. “It is imperative that this role be immediately re-instated.” 

“Nurses are also insisting on urgent action to end the opioids crisis. Robust peer-reviewed evidence show that supervised consumption sites save lives and make a difference as the country grapples with a growing opioids crisis,” says Grinspun. “It is imperative that these services be available in all communities in need.” 

In addition, nurses are calling on the federal government to address the long-standing inequities and discrimination faced by Indigenous Peoples. Nurses are urging the government to implement the ‘calls to action’ by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. “This is central to reestablishing a relationship with Canada’s Indigenous Peoples,” says Brathwaite. “Ensuring access to health care, education, adequate housing and clean water will also help us bridge the gap and right our wrongs.”  

“The work that nurses do touch the lives of every person. Our members know the broad range of factors that foster good health and that is why we are eager to hear about their moments of inspiration, the challenges they face, and the solutions they bring forward” says Brathwaite. 

The Fall Tour is expected to run from Oct. 8 to Nov. 29 with visits in Sault Ste. Marie, Mississauga, Barrie, Guelph and North York.  

Join the conversation by using the hashtag #RNAOfalltour. 

Details of RNAO’s fall tour:

  • Sault Ste. Marie: Oct. 8 from 7 to 9 p.m. in the Sicoli Room at Grand Gardens North, 1324 Great Northern Rd. 
  • Mississauga: Oct. 17 from 6 to 8 p.m. in room 2-351 in Region of Peel, 7120 Hurontario St.
  • Barrie: Oct. 24 from 6 to 9 p.m. at Monte Carlo Inn, Barrie Suites, 81 Hart Dr.
  • Guelph: Oct. 30 from 7 to 9 p.m. in the Oak room at Victoria Road Recreation Centre, 151 Victoria Road North
  • Windsor: Nov. 11 from 5:30 to 8 p.m. at Bacchus Ristorante, 614 Erie St. East
  • Toronto: Nov. 27 from 5 to 9 p.m. in the Red room at the Art Gallery of Ontario, 317 Dundas St. W
  • North York: Nov. 29 from 6:30 to 8:15 p.m. in room 101 at the North York Central Library, 5120 Yonge St. 

Members of the public and the media are welcome to attend. 

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. 

Contact info

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