Registed Nurses' Association of Ontario


RNAO calls for Ontario government to maintain remaining mask mandates indefinitely

On June 8, RNAO was disappointed to learn the Ontario government chose to lift most of the province’s remaining masking requirements on June 11, including in health-care settings and public transit. Although pleased that masks remain mandatory in long-term care and retirement homes, the mandate should also continue in congregate living settings such as shelters and group homes. Recommendations are not enough to protect the health and wellbeing of vulnerable populations. 

“Although we are delighted that hospitals are maintaining mask policies, it is not enough to protect health-care workers and patients and the onus shouldn’t be placed on individual organizations,” said RNAO CEO Dr. Doris Grinspun, who also told CP24 on June 8 that “we need the premier and Dr. Kieran Moore to say that ‘COVID is not gone and we are keeping the masks on.’” In addition to the effectiveness of masks, Grinspun also highlights the importance of mandatory vaccination: “We need to change the mandate that ‘fully vaccinated’ is two vaccines. ‘Fully vaccinated’ at this point should be three vaccines.”

In March 2022, RNAO stated the government’s decision to put an end to Ontario’s mandatory mask mandate in most public indoor settings was ill-conceived and put politics ahead of science. RNAO continues to affirm its position on masking, which is the best way to protect people from COVID-19 and other airborne viruses. 

In a Globe and Mail story on June 8, then President and now Immediate-Past President Morgan Hoffarth said “we are already at a critical staffing shortage and we can’t afford to have any additional people off.” Echoing Hoffarth’s comments, RNAO President Dr. Claudette Holloway told CTV News on June 11: “We have to remember that COVID has not gone and we need to do all we can to protect each other, so we want people to think about ‘we’ versus just ‘me’.”

Nurses and other health professionals are working hard to address the extreme backlog of patients needing medical attention. Removing masking in most settings will throw yet another hurdle in their way. 

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