Policy and Political Action

Policy & Political Action

Bill 135: An Act to protect pupils with asthma

The Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO) is the professional association representing registered nurses (RNs) in all settings and roles across Ontario. It is the strong, credible voice leading the nursing profession to influence and promote healthy public policy. RNAO appreciates this opportunity to provide our written submission on Bill 135, Ryan’s Law (Ensuring Asthma Friendly Schools), 2013.

On December 17, 2013, RNAO sent an Open Letter to Premier Kathleen Wynne and key MPPs from all three parties, including members of the Standing Committee on Social Policy, with two key suggestions on improving student safety by strengthening Bill 135 (enclosed). RNAO reiterates the point made by MPPs from all three parties during debate that Ryan’s Law would be even stronger if it were to include other life-threatening conditions such as diabetes and epilepsy. Our hope is that a more comprehensive approach might prevent having to introduce another law that bears the name of another child’s tragic death—like Ryan’s Law or Sabrina’s Law.

RNAO’s second recommendation is to replace each “physician” with “primary care provider” or “primary care team” in order to reflect the reality of primary care being provided each day by nurse practitioners, RNs, and other experienced clinicians in community health centres, NP-led clinics, family health teams, and nursing stations. Physician-centred language such as “developed under the direction of the pupil’s physician” works against the inter-professional collaboration of regulated health professionals in primary and specialized settings who are responsible for helping clients manage their increasingly complex acute and chronic health conditions.

Two RNAO best practice guidelines of direct relevance to Bill 135 are available at www.rnao.ca:

Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (2008). Promoting Asthma Control in Children. Toronto: Author.

Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (2013). Developing and Sustaining Interprofessional Health Care: Optimizing Patient, Organizational and System Outcomes. Toronto: Author.

In summary, RNAO’s two recommendations are:

  1. Revise Ryan’s Law to make it more comprehensive by including other life-threatening conditions such as diabetes and epilepsy.
  2. Replace each “physician” with “primary care provider” or “primary care team” in order to reflect current realities of interprofessional health care.

Thank you for your work in making Ontario’s schools safer for our most vulnerable students. Please do not hesitate to contact RNAO if we can be of assistance with additional information or connections with our experts in a range of specialized nursing areas.

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