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Sept. 29, 2023

RNAO’s ongoing media profile: The September 2023 report

media profile

This month, RNAO was featured in media stories related to the Ontario Ombudsman’s report about long-term care (LTC) home inspections, retro pay for nurses at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids), the Global March to End Fossil Fuels, the ongoing need to retain nurses in this province and protests against for-profit care.

A report issued by the Ontario Ombudsman on Sept. 7 found that the province’s LTC inspection system was overwhelmed during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. Some LTC homes went as long as three months without inspections. Thousands of residents died in LTC homes between March 2020 and April 2022, as well as 13 staff members. RNAO CEO Dr. Doris Grinspun told the Hamilton Spectator (Sept. 9) that the provincial government must own up to its lack of preparedness to ensure that this never happens again. “It's the period that all of us want to forget,” said Grinspun. “But we cannot forget. We should not forget.” On 580 CFRA (Sept. 7), Grinspun said, “We need to have these inspections. The inspections need to be unannounced because otherwise it’s just a show.”

On Sept. 14, SickKids announced its plan to provide retro pay to nurses who worked at the hospital while Bill 124 was still in effect. Initially, the hospital said that it would only provide this payment to employees who are still working at SickKids. Grinspun told CP24 (Sept. 14) that she didn’t understand this rationale. “Yes, those nurses are not unionized but they worked during the heat of the pandemic…some of them even have PTSD because of the pandemic and the tremendous pressures on staffing that they had at the hospital,” Grinspun said. SickKids has since reversed its decision and said it will ensure that employees past and present receive compensation.

On Sept. 16, people gathered at Queen’s Park in Toronto to participate in the Global March to End Fossil Fuels. RNAO President Dr. Claudette Holloway and President-Elect Lhamo Dolkar attended along with the co-chair of the Ontario Nurses for the Environment Interest Group, Josalyn Radcliffe. Holloway told Radio-Canada (Sept. 16) that the smoke from wildfires this past summer, connected to global warming, caused health issues. “I had extreme breathing problems, and many others did too. And we have a lot of people with chronic illnesses who are even more affected,” said Holloway. The federal and provincial governments must develop a science-based plan to address the climate emergency. Sign and share RNAO’s Action Alert.

Nurses continue to leave Ontario to pursue job opportunities in other parts of Canada and the U.S. On 580 CFRA (Sept. 19), Holloway said to retain and recruit nurses in Ontario, they “need fair compensation (and) full-time employment that provides them with benefits.” She also added that nurses need to have fair workloads and feel supported, which are recommendations outlined in RNAO’s Nursing Career Pathways report.

On Sept. 25 and 26, protests were held at Queen’s Park against the expansion of for-profit care delivery in Ontario. Additional protests were also held in Thunder Bay, Dryden and Algoma. Holloway told Zoomer Radio  (Sept. 26) that RNAO “strongly protests the move to for-profit care. We know that non-profit care is more economical and gets better results.” Grinpsun, who spoke on the second day of the protest, told CTV News (Sept. 26) that hospitals should let “those who work in ORs and recovery rooms to operate after hours in a not-for-profit basis – that’s the solution.” Add your voice to RNAO’s call by signing the following Action Alert: Stop the move to for-profit health care, premier!

RNAO will continue to speak out alongside its members on topics related to nursing and health. Stay up-to-date on media coverage by regularly 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.