RNAO says the time is now for registered nurse prescribing; urges fair compensation for Ontario nurses
The Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO) supports the Ontario government’s move to allow pharmacists to prescribe medications for 13 common ailments, enabling the public to have faster access to care, but more is needed to improve access for all. To achieve this, the government must deliver on promises to enable registered nurse (RN) prescribing and fair compensation to retain all health-care workers in Ontario.
“Nurses are delighted that pharmacists will play a larger role in Ontario’s health system," RNAO CEO Dr. Doris Grinspun shared on Twitter as the news was delivered. “And, I am looking forward to the day nurses stand at the podium with Premier Doug Ford and Health Minister Sylvia Jones to finally announce RN prescribing,” adds Grinspun. Former premier Kathleen Wynne had announced RN prescribing at RNAO’s Annual General Meeting in 2013. In March 2019, the College of Nurses of Ontario finalized and forwarded to the government all necessary legislative and regulatory changes for the implementation of RN prescribing in Ontario. Yet, RNs are still waiting. “The time for the government to implement RN prescribing is long overdue,” says Grinspun.
“Ontario is amongst the few jurisdictions without RN prescribing in Canada and that impacts the care Ontarians receive on a daily basis. Imagine what this would mean for a resident in long-term care who doesn’t need to be transferred to an emergency department to treat a urinary tract infection. RN prescribing and expanded scopes for nurse practitioners (NP) in all nursing homes will prevent unnecessary transfers, enhance residents’ quality of life, expedite treatment and save taxpayers’ dollars,” says Grinspun. Indeed, the most recent data from the Ministry of Long-Term Care (July 2022) shows there were more than 15,000 potentially avoidable emergency department visits by long-term care residents in the 2020-2021 reporting year.
During Wednesday’s announcement, Premier Ford said nurses “deserve every penny,” yet his government is appealing a court’s decision that deems Bill 124 – wage-restraint legislation that caps nurses’ salaries at one per cent – unconstitutional. “Let’s talk about Bill 124. The premier says ‘the bill is gone’ and nurses are getting back to the negotiating table. We’re puzzled then as to why the premier is appealing the court’s decision,” says RNAO President Dr. Claudette Holloway.
RNAO urges the premier to allow its colleagues at the Ontario Nurses’ Associations and other unions to negotiate competitive compensation for RNs, registered practical nurses and NPs so that they keep working for Ontarians. The starting salary of an RN in Ontario is the second lowest in Canada, let alone compared with the United States.
“Premier, competitive compensation is what will enable us to retain nurses in Ontario so they build their careers here. Let’s make 2023 the year when together we shift the focus back to having nurses feel valued so they stay and provide Ontarians with high-quality care across all care sectors,” urges Holloway.
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 RNAO.ca or follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
- 30 -