RNAO’s 95th Annual General Meeting marks an impactful Year of the Nurse amid COVID-19

June 11, 2020

The efforts and achievements of nurses, many of whom have been working day and night caring for people during the COVID-19 outbreak, will be celebrated during the 95th Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO) taking place Thursday, June 11 – Saturday, June 13.

The event, which is normally in-person and live-streamed, will be held virtually this year in light of the pandemic.

“COVID-19 has challenged nurses everywhere in ways we never anticipated or imagined. They’re nursing people with knowledge, compassion and courage while risking their lives. It is fitting that 2020 is the Year of the Nurse because people have always respected and trusted nurses and yet, this pandemic has highlighted the work of nurses and the central role we play in improving health, in building healthier communities, and in caring for the ill and suffering,” says Dr. Doris Grinspun, RNAO’s CEO. 

“RNAO has been front-and-centre during COVID-19, supporting our members, deploying health-care workers through VIANurse, providing updates for thousands of health-care workers at home and in many countries, publishing a prominent blog, profiling a massive presence in the media, organizing weekly webinars, participating in government decision-making tables, partnering with advocates for vulnerable populations, and engaging in direct policy discussions with officials. To top it off, we also launched a campaign to cheer up health workers and show that #TogetherWeCanDoIt,” adds Grinspun. 

“Our AGM is an exciting opportunity for the 43,408 members of our association ‒ RNs, NPs and nursing students ‒ to come together as a profession and to reflect on our successes in policy advocacy and our clinical work. Our voice and expertise has shaped the health system and provided direction on what more we must do to ensure it better reflects the needs of Ontarians,” says RNAO President Dr. Angela Cooper Brathwaite. 

“Despite RNAO’s enormous effort addressing the pandemic, we continued our work on evidence-based guidelines and evidence-based policy. We launched Enhancing Community Care for Ontarians (ECCO 3.0), released two major reports on long-term care, engaged support for struggling congregate homes, launched three new BPGs, continued our innovative work with Best Practice Spotlight Organization Ontario Health Teams (BPSO-OHT) and with all other BPSOs at home and around the world, and had a fulsome and remarkable Nursing Week in May. This is the type of association we are – an association that always thinks outwards and is always ahead of the curve on how to serve Ontarians and serve nurses and other health professionals,” adds Cooper Brathwaite. “You can say I am a very proud outgoing president. Yes, extremely proud,” lauds a joyful Cooper Brathwaite.   

One area where RNAO’s voice was and still is loud-and-clear is long-term care, a sector long neglected by successive governments and where the rapid fire spread of COVID-19 resulted in the untimely deaths of far too many residents. This week, RNAO sent a submission to a government advisory group looking into staffing. The association says more funding is necessary to address a shortfall of regulated health professionals, along with a Basic Care Guarantee for all residents living in Ontario’s 626 nursing homes.

As nurses look back on the accomplishments of the past year and set new priorities for the coming year, RNAO’s AGM will also welcome incoming president Morgan Hoffarth, as Cooper Brathwaite’s two-year term comes to an end. Hoffarth is a co-ordinator in the Medically Complex Service at St. Joseph’s Health Care in London. In addition to her experience in acute care, she has also worked in primary care.

“I look forward to being president of a united force of nursing leaders who have chosen to belong to their professional association because they know that RNAO’s voice is heard and that collectively we are making a difference in nursing, health and health care. In the midst of a pandemic and a flurry of other activity, we are now heading into a full virtual AGM,” says Hoffarth. “As difficult as these times are, nurses and RNAO have a lot to celebrate – and it is the right time to honour our members.” 

The three-day event kicks off with speeches from various politicians and honoured guests. 

Four Ontario long-term organizations will receive their designation as cohort D of RNAO’s Long-Term Care Best Practice Spotlight Organizations (LTC-BPSO) for their commitment to implementing the association’s evidence-based best practice guidelines to improve resident care. They include: Fiddick’s Nursing Home, Holland Christian Home Inc - Faith Manor, Markhaven Home for Seniors and Nipigon District Memorial Hospital.

In addition to hearing from political and stakeholder leaders, the association will also present its annual Recognition Awards to 13 individual winners and three groups to honour the nursing contributions they have made in areas as practice, policy, research, administration and education. Journalists receiving awards for excellence in health-care reporting will also be recognized as RNAO hands out its annual Media Awards.

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

Highlights include:

Thursday, June 11, 6 – 7 p.m.

  • Hon. Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health at 6:10 p.m. 
  • Mike Schreiner, Leader, Green Party of Ontario at 6:15 p.m. 
  • Hon. Dr. Merrilee Fullerton, Minister of Long-Term Care (video)
  • Andrea Horwath, Leader of the Official Opposition, Ontario New Democratic Party (video)
  • Steven Del Duca, Leader, Ontario Liberal Party  (video)
  • Barbara Stilwell, Executive Director, Nursing Now Global Campaign at 6:34 p.m.
  • Richard Ricciardi, President, Sigma Theta Tau (greetings by letter)

Friday, June 12, 4 – 7 p.m.

  • Doris Grinspun delivers her annual CEO report at 4:05 p.m.
  • Hon. Doug Ford, Premier of Ontario, addresses members and guests at 4:30 p.m.
  • Angela Cooper Brathwaite announces results of One member, one vote at 5:00 p.m.
  • Consultation session on the 2020 proposed resolutions at 5:20 p.m.
  • Presentation of Recognition Awards and Media Awards at 6:20 p.m.
  • Introduction of 2020-2022 Board of Directors at 6:30 p.m.
  • Angela Cooper Brathwaite delivers her President's report at 6:35 p.m.
  • Swearing-in ceremony for incoming president Morgan Hoffarth at 6:45 p.m.

Saturday, June 13, 11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m.

  • Closing Keynote: Celebrating the Year of the Nurse: Scaling Up Our Voices. The panel discussion will be moderated by RNAO CEO Dr. Doris Grinspun and features guests Dr. Barbara Stilwell, Executive Director, Nursing Now Global Campaign, and Dr. Mary Wakefield, former acting deputy secretary for the U.S. Department of Health during the Barack Obama administration. The discussion will focus on the key role nurses play in speaking out for nursing and health.

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

RNAO's 95th Annual General Meeting Report is available here

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 our website at or follow us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

Contact info

Marion Zych
Director of Communications
Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario (RNAO)