RNAO's ongoing media profile: The December 2022 report
RNAO was featured in media stories covering a variety of issues throughout December. They included RNAO's reaction to the Ontario’s auditor general’s 2022 report, the sudden death of a child at an Ontario hospital and the ongoing nursing crisis.
On Nov. 30, the provincial auditor general’s report came out. The report cited that Ontario’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout was riddled with inequities, missed opportunities and waste. It also highlighted that nurses were paid one-fifth or less than their physician counterparts in mass vaccination clinics. In an RNAO media release (Dec. 1), RNAO President Dr. Claudette Holloway said this inequity in pay caused resentment among many nurses. “Working through an exhausting and traumatic pandemic in a health-care system stressed to the limit, nurses were exposed to disrespectful actions by the government at a time when its support was most needed,” said Holloway.
On Dec. 6, Ontario’s coroner’s office announced its investigation into the sudden and unexpected death of a child at Lakeridge Health in Ajax. The death occurred at a time when hospitals are experiencing capacity issues with cases of COVID-19, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and influenza. In DurhamRegion.com (Dec.8) RNAO CEO Dr. Doris Grinspun said, “I cannot begin to think how unfathomable the pain the family feels and is undergoing,” adding that “we’re not going to speculate on anything related to what contributed to the death of this child.” Grinspun told CityNews (Dec. 8) that her “understanding is that the nurses did everything they could to save the life of this child. That doesn’t make it any less of a tragedy.”
RNAO continues to call on the Ontario government to address the nursing crisis. Despite the government promising Ontario nurses a $5,000 retention bonus to thank them for their work during the pandemic, many are still waiting to receive this money. On 580 CFRA (Dec. 14), Grinspun said a large number of nurses working in community care (i.e., home, primary and palliative) have yet to receive full payment or the second installment. “It only creates tension that we can't afford at this time. All nurses deserve the bonus – let's not differentiate between the sectors,” she said. While this bonus was appreciated by nurses, it won’t stop some nurses from leaving the province or the profession. “One single strategy will not be the magic one. This does not replace the need for the premier to not appeal (the court’s decision on) Bill 124," Grinspun told CBC News (Dec. 7). To address staffing shortages, some Ontario hospitals are considering hiring back unvaccinated nurses who were let go during the height of the pandemic, a measure that Grinspun says won’t help save the health-care system. On CTV News (Dec. 10), Grinspun said “What will save the system is very competitive compensation, workloads that allow nurses to provide the care that they want and know to provide, and fast-tracking more seats for RNs (and) for NPs.”
RNAO’s media outreach this month resulted in 47 media hits. As always, RNAO will continue to speak out alongside its members. For more media coverage, visit RNAO in the News.