Registed Nurses' Association of Ontario


RNAO’s ongoing media profile: The September 2022 report

This month, RNAO spoke out about the Ontario government’s revised COVID-19 isolation guidance and its directive to the College of Nurses of Ontario’s (CNO) to expedite applications of internationally educated nurses (IEN), as well as the court case against Bill 124 and the new Bill 7 regulations.

Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore announced (Aug. 31) that children ages five to 11 are eligible to receive a COVID-19 booster dose. Moore also updated the guidelines related to isolation: individuals positive with COVID-19 but without symptoms don’t need to isolate but should wear a mask when they’re in public for at least 10 days. Symptomatic individuals should take a rapid antigen test and stay home until their fever is gone and other symptoms are improving. They should also wear a mask for 10 days when they’re in public and avoid non-essential visits to high-risk individuals and settings. With children back in school and more people expected to be indoors as the weather cools down, RNAO urges the government to maintain its previous isolation recommendations to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other airborne viruses. On Global News (Aug. 31), RNAO President Dr. Claudette Holloway said “we’re going in a way that looks like it may increase the risk of infections (and) the burden comes back on (nurses) and they’re way past exhausted.” RNAO CEO Dr. Doris Grinspun told CityNews Ottawa (Sept. 1) that the government must mandate masks in schools again. “Put back the masks, it’s not a hassle. It’s much more of a hassle to spread COVID in the community.”

Ontario’s Minister of Health Sylvia Jones has directed the CNO to expedite the registration of IENs given the ongoing nursing crisis. Holloway told Canadian Press (Sept. 7) RNAO welcomes this announcement and urges the minister to also work on a long-term nursing retention and recruitment strategy. “We have been asking for this for some time and many of (the IENs) have been waiting for years to be processed. We desperately need them in Ontario on the front lines to deal with the nursing shortages that we have,” said Holloway. On Global News (Sept. 7), Grinspun said that allowing more IENs to enter the system “will bring the beginning of a solution” to the province’s nursing crisis.

Another crucial step the government must take to end the nursing crisis is to repeal Bill 124, which caps nurses’ salary increases at 1 per cent annually. Several groups are challenging Bill 124 in the provincial Superior Court of Justice, including the Ontario Nurses’ Association, SEIU Healthcare, Ontario Public Service Employees Union and the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario, saying that that this bill violates a section of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms that protects meaningful collective bargaining under its freedom of association provision. On Sept. 11, Grinspun told CBC News that Bill 124 is causing many nurses to leave the province or the profession altogether. “We don’t have sufficient numbers of nurses. They’re moving somewhere else.” Grinspun had previously called for the repeal of Bill 124 in a Sept. 1 letter to the editor published in the Toronto Star. “We will not stop the exodus from our profession until we address the factors causing nurses to leave. Repealing Bill 124 is the place to start,” wrote Grinspun. Sign RNAO’s Action Alert to join the more than 27,000 others who are calling for the premier to #RepealBill124.

On Sept. 14, the Ontario government released new regulations about Bill 7, More Beds, Better Care Act, 2022 – legislation that authorizes the movement of hospital patients requiring alternate levels of care into long-term care (LTC) homes. Starting on Sept. 21, patients in southern Ontario hospitals may be moved to an LTC home within a 70-kilometre radius of their preferred location, while those in northern Ontario may be moved to a home within a 150-kilometre radius. Patients who refuse to be moved out of a hospital bed after being discharged will be charged $400 per day. On 580 CFRA’s Ottawa Now with Kristy Cameron (Sept. 15), Grinspun said “on the one hand, (the government) says they want to help hospitals, on another hand (they say) we cannot have these patients in hospitals, but then they're not building LTC to the level that it can really uptake these new residents and provide the quality and safe care that they need.” RNAO will continue to engage directly with members of government to address nurses’ concerns around Bill 7.

RNAO’s media outreach this month resulted in 111 media hits. As always, RNAO will continue to speak out alongside its members, as well as all Ontarians. For more media coverage, visit RNAO in the news.

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