Statement: RNAO & OMA Stress Personal Protective Equipment for Frontline Workers Is an Urgent Priority

March 22, 2020

The Ontario Medical Association (OMA) and the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO) need to ensure frontline health-care workers have the personal protective equipment (PPE) and supplies they need to care for their patients.

“We must act now for all the eventualities, given the global shortage of supplies. RNAO welcomes Premier Ford’s recent appeal to manufacturers to produce the essential gear to protect our health-care workers so they can be there to protect the public. We fear that a mask shortage is imminent.  This is a serious and dire situation for our frontline workers. We must take every action possible to avoid, or at best, delay such an eventuality,” says Dr. Doris Grinspun, RNAO’s CEO.

We call on governments and organizations at all levels to continue their efforts to bring urgency to the global shortage of PPE and essential medical equipment. We must be prepared for a shortage of masks” said Dr. Sohail Gandhi, OMA President. “Health-care workers are at high risk of exposure to the virus. Protection for themselves and the patients they care for is vitally important in the battle against this virus.”

As well, the OMA and RNAO understand that large quantities of masks, currently available to the system have expired. As supplies dwindle and we await more supplies the use of the stockpile of expired masks should be strongly considered. These expired masks could be released now under existing ethical and evidenced-based guidelines to ensure appropriate distribution, i.e. ensuring expired ones go to lower risk areas. In unprecedented situations we need to take all steps to provide the best protection available for health-care professionals and their patients.

RNAO and the OMA urge anyone with a supply of masks not in use for the current emergency to immediately repurpose them for frontline health-care workers. This includes:

  • Health care and education related institutions that have PPE stocks for their simulation labs.
  • Other health professionals such as dentists.

In addition, commercial sale of these products should be prohibited, and existing private stocks (e.g., drugstore chains) immediately re-possessed for use by frontline health-care workers.

The OMA and RNAO are working closely with the Ontario Ministry of Health to ensure that we get adequate supplies of personal protective equipment for nurses, doctors, and other frontline health-care workers right away. We are ready to work with all levels of government and the CMOH for this purpose.

We are confident the provincial and federal governments have heard our concerns and are working together to address this urgent supply issue.
The Ontario Medical Association represents Ontario’s 43,000 plus physicians, medical students and retired physicians, advocating for and supporting doctors while strengthening the leadership role of doctors in caring for patients. Our vision is to be the trusted voice in transforming Ontario’s health-care system.

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

Contact info

Marion Zych
Director of Communications
Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario (RNAO)
Anne-Marie Flanagan
Director, Earned and Social Media
Ontario Medical Association