Latest news
Feb. 28, 2024

RNAO’s ongoing media profile: The February 2024 report

media profile

During the month of February, RNAO spokespeople were featured in media stories about a primary care announcement, the provincial-federal health funding agreement, news of a pharmacare deal and the repeal of Bill 124.

On Feb. 1, the Ontario government announced it’ll invest $110 million in primary care teams across the province to improve access to care. The funding will be used to support 53 new and 25 expanded interprofessional teams in primary care, including funding nurse practitioner (NP)-led clinics – one of RNAO’s longstanding asks. In a media release (Feb. 1), RNAO President Dr. Claudette Holloway said that “now that they have given the green light to expand and open additional clinics, NPs can hit the ground running and remove the barriers that have prevented access to primary care.” RNAO CEO Dr. Doris Grinspun said that the investment is “the beginning of a renewed emphasis on primary care that has long been needed in the province,” (CBC News, Feb. 1). Grinspun also told Ottawa Citizen (Feb. 1) that “it is critical to have these interprofessional teams.”

On Feb. 9, the province signed a $3.1 billion health-care funding agreement with the federal government. This funding will help create new primary care teams, including NP-led clinics as well as hiring more health-care workers and increasing access to mental health services. In RNAO’s media release (Feb. 9), Holloway said “a well-functioning health system is anchored in a robust primary care sector. (This) agreement shows that the federal government supports the expansion of publicly funded, not-for-profit primary care.” In QP Briefing (Feb. 9), Grinspun highlighted the importance of supporting the primary care sector: “this is a step in the right direction and brings transformation in health care.”. She also emphasized the need for more health-care workers in Ontario’s health system, telling CHCH News (Feb. 9), “Our system has a disease, and we diagnosed it already: human resources.” 

Federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh confirmed in several interviews on Feb. 23 that the Liberals and NDP have reached an agreement on pharmacare. RNAO has been calling for a national pharmacare plan for years. “We are eager to see the details and if this will bring us down the path of a meaningful universal single-payer system for all Canadians,” said Grinspun (CP24, Feb. 23).

On Feb. 12, Ontario’s Court of Appeal found that Bill 124 is invalid as it applies to unionized employees. This decision partially upholds a lower court ruling by the Ontario Superior Court of Justice. RNAO is pleased to see this outcome and that the Ontario government repealed Bill 124 in its entirety. In a media release (Feb. 12), Grinspun said “nurses work in all sectors of our health system and their compensation needs to be harmonized upwards so we can continue to attract the best for the benefit of all Ontarians.” On Kitchener’s 570 News (Feb. 13) Holloway said “RNAO has been advocating for this for a long time. We want to move forward so that nurses and other public sector workers can get fair compensation so we can retain them in the province.” Grinspun told CTV News (Feb. 23) that with Bill 124 rescinded, “now, it’s time to really move forward not only with income, which is hugely important and is happening…also with issues of workload. We need safe workloads.”

This month, Bellville issued a state of emergency after first responders were called for 35 drug overdoses within six days resulting in two deaths. In response, Grinspun penned a letter to the Belleville Intelligencer (Feb. 21) about the need for more harm reduction support. “We must immediately implement a harm reduction strategy across Ontario…RNAO calls on Premier Ford and his team to leave aside taboos and/or ideology – and act with urgency and wisdom – to being this public health crisis to an end.” Sign RNAO’s Action Alert to call on the premier to end the overdose crisis.

For three years in a row, Hamilton Health Sciences has had increasing deficits. Grinspun told the Hamilton Spectator (Feb. 2) that many hospitals have been keeping quiet about growing shortfalls. Other hospitals, such as St. Joseph’s Healthcare, Joseph Brant Hospital, Brant Community Healthcare System, West Haldimand General Hospital and Norfolk General Hospital, have also experienced deficits.

Several for-profit primary care clinics continue to operate across the province despite having harmful impacts on Ontario’s public funded, not-for-profit system. In CHCH News’ story (Feb. 6) about an NP-run clinic in Ancaster that charges for its services, Grinspun said “it’s not in accordance with the spirit of intent of the Canada Health Act and RNAO does not support user fees at all.” An NP-run for-profit clinic in Kitchener also continues to operate. In Waterloo Region Record (Feb. 10), Grinspun reiterated that for-profit models of health care are not supported by RNAO. “This is not universal access to health care. Universal access is not based on the size of your wallet, but based on your health-care needs.” Sign RNAO’s Action Alert to call on the premier to stop the move to for-profit health care.

RNAO will continue to speak out alongside its members on topics related to nursing and health. Stay up-to-date on media coverage by visiting RNAO in the news. Are you a member interested in speaking to reporters? Compete our short survey and a member of our communications team will be in touch.