Policy at Work

Queen’s Park on the Road: Time to get involved

RNAO members have been meeting with their local elected representatives as part of Queen’s Park on the Road (QPOR).

Considered one of the association’s key member-driven political action events, QPOR gives RNs, NPs and nursing students the opportunity to discuss key nursing and health issues with their member of provincial parliament (MPP). The meetings offer a chance to raise awareness about current challenges in the profession and the health system and to influence healthy public policy. 

This year, members are focusing their discussions on ways to address the nursing crisis and the growing number of overdose deaths.

RNAO has developed a toolkit with fact sheets, political action bulletins and other key resources to support members in their efforts. 

Meetings were held in-person during constituency week (Nov. 7 - 11) when MPPs returned to their ridings, and will continue right through January. Members can also opt to organize virtual meetings. For more information, please contact Ann-Marie Morris at amorris@RNAO.ca.

RNAO executives and board members meet with provincial government

RNAO’s executive – President Dr. Claudette Holloway, Immediate Past-President Morgan Hoffarth, CEO Dr. Doris Grinspun – and board members Dr. So-Yan Seto (Region 7 Representative), RN Kathleen Pikaart (Region 8 Representative) and NP Lhamo Dolkar (Interest Groups Representative), met with Premier Ford, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health Sylvia Jones and Dr. Karima Velji, who is Ontario’s chief nursing officer and serves as assistant deputy minister of health. 

The Sept. 28 meeting, which took place at Queen’s Park, focused on sharing key challenges confronting the profession and solutions that will help address the province’s deepening nursing crisis. Discussion on building the profession and ensuring a sustainable supply of RNs and NPs were central to the meeting, including the need to repeal Bill 124* to ensure competitive compensation and the heavy workloads confronted by nurses daily. Other areas of discussion included tackling systemic racism, RN prescribing and the need to make permanent the 625 school-focused public health nurses funded since the start of the pandemic to-date. 

Watch this video to learn more about the meeting.

*Note: Bill 124 was struck down by the Ontario Superior Court in late November. The government has indicated it plans to appeal. RNAO has urged the government not to do so.  


RNAO meets with Hon. Michael Tibollo to urge action on mental health and opioid crisis

On Oct. 31, CEO Dr. Doris Grinspun, RNAO staff, the leadership of RNAO's mental health nurses interest group and RN psychotherapists met with Hon. Michael Tibollo, associate minister of mental health and addictions, for a roundtable discussion. Issues discussed included increasing access to mental health services through nurse psychotherapy and responding to the overdose crisis. RNAO identified challenges of nurse psychotherapists related to the lack of College of Nurses (CNO) standards of nurse psychotherapy practice, which is limiting access to this service provided by RNs and NPs. 

RNAO shared a letter written to the CNO outlining the issue, and asking for support in developing standards of practice for this authorized act for nurses. A set of draft standards was also included for the CNO's consideration. Regarding the opioid crisis, RNAO reviewed its relevant opioid fact sheet and political action bulletin. RNAO was heartened to hear of Tibollo’s support for increasing access to mental health services through nurse psychotherapy and his willingness to work with RNAO to achieve this end.

RNAO was also pleased to learn that Minister Tibollo supports supervised consumption services, and urged him to move more quickly to fulfill the government's 2018 promise of 21 consumption and treatment service sites. On the issue of safer supply and decriminalization, Tibollo’s views and RNAO differ greatly and we agreed to continue the conversation basing it on evidence. 

RNAO will continue to pursue – at all levels of government – a harm-reduction approach to the overdose crisis. For more information, read our media release

Policy at work

#DecriminalizeNow campaign

The overdose crisis was also top of mind in a campaign RNAO launched to support decriminalizing simple drug possession.

On Oct. 3, RNAO and its members sent letters to mayoral candidates running for municipal election in more than 20 communities, asking them to sign a pledge in support of decriminalization. 

Data from Public Health Ontario show that 2,880 people died in Ontario from opioid-related overdose in 2021. That’s an increase of 85 per cent compared with statistics reported before the pandemic.

RNAO recognizes decriminalizing simple possession of drugs is an effective way to prevent overdose deaths.

For more information about the campaign and other measures endorsed by RNAO in the fight against opioid overdose, including which candidates signed our pledge, check out #DecriminalizeNow campaign.

RNAO’s own pledge is to continue our advocacy, so addiction is treated as a health issue and not a criminal matter. 



Action on climate begins locally

RNAO was one of 250 non-partisan organizations that signed on to the Ontario Climate Emergency Campaign (OCEC) ahead of municipal elections held province-wide on Oct. 24. The focus of the campaign was to encourage voters to cast ballots for pro-environmental candidates.

RNAO President Dr. Claudette Holloway was among the speakers at a media conference held on Oct. 19 for the campaign’s launch. Noting that municipalities influence 50 per cent of all greenhouse gas emissions in Canada, action on the local front is more important than ever. 

Holloway said local representatives make decisions on land use that determine the fate of green spaces, agriculture, food security, housing and transportation. All of these have an impact on our climate. Municipalities that lessen their reliance on fossil fuels, embrace renewable forms of energy and encourage more active use of transportation and public transit can reduce pollution levels, said Holloway. The Canadian government’s own OCEC data were cited, noting that air pollution alone kills 6,600 Ontarians each year.   

The campaign identified pro-environmental candidates who endorsed a municipal Climate Action Plan. The plan sets globally recognized emissions targets with the aim of getting municipalities off fossil fuels, while promoting public awareness of environmental issues.

For more information, read our media release



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