RNAO calls on HOOPP to get rid of fossil fuel holdings
In September, RNAO sent a letter to the Healthcare of Ontario Pension Plan (HOOPP), which represents nurses and other workers in the hospital and community sectors, urging that it immediately stop any new investments in fossil fuels and divest all its holdings by 2025. This is a must to ensure pension investments focus on a just and sustainable future, not climate disruption. In the letter, RNAO CEO Dr. Doris Grinspun and President Dr. Claudette Holloway applauded HOOPP’s commitment to put $23 billion into accredited green investments by 2030, but said the fossil fuel shares it holds are at “at odds with RNAO members’ professional values and our commitment to serve the public as the first mandate of health professionals is ‘do no harm.’” In a radio interview (The Energy Mix, Nov. 20), Grinspun said that HOOPP is a “tragically literal example of investing in one’s own demise.” Earlier that same month, RNAO President Dr. Claudette Holloway and President-Elect Lhamo Dolkar attended the March to End Fossil Fuels in Toronto. RNAO continues to call on the provincial and federal governments to put forth a science-based plan to respond to the climate emergency. Sign RNAO’s Action Alert.
RNs granted new prescribing powers by Ontario government
On November 6, Health Minister Sylvia Jones announced that RNs will soon be able to independently prescribe certain medications, including medications for smoking cessation, anesthetics used topically for pain relief, and hormonal and intravaginal contraceptives. RNAO has called for RN prescribing in Ontario since 2012. Beginning in January 2024, RNs can take a course approved by the College of Nurses of Ontario (CNO), at select colleges and universities to expand their practice to include prescribing. RNAO is also urging that this training be integrated into the four-year nursing baccalaureate curriculum. RNAO President Dr. Claudette Holloway says this will provide Ontarians with accessible and timely health care. “I think our public can be fully relieved to know that they have educated professionals who will be delivering this care,” she says. (610 CKTB, Nov. 8). Read this Toronto Star op-ed from 2013 supporting RNAO's advocacy.
Leadership change for International Affairs and Best Practice Guidelines (IABPG) Centre
After 22 years of dedicated service, Heather McConnell, who first served as associate director (2007) and then director (2020) for RNAO’s IABPG Centre, retired in December 2023. Dr. Michelle Rey-Lloyd joined the association in early November as director, acknowledging that McConnell is “leaving tremendously large shoes to fill.” “I am very proud of the impact our collective work has had through the BPG program and the BPSO social movement,” McConnell says. “It has been a privilege to be part of this committed team, and I know that with Michelle’s leadership, the program will continue to thrive and explore new ways to enhance the uptake and sustainability of evidence in practice.” Rey-Lloyd, who holds a MSc and BScH from Queen’s University and earned her PhD from the University of Toronto, previously worked at RNAO as an associate director of evidence and guideline development from 2015 to 2017. She is making her return to the organization to lead a growing team at home office as well as an international network of organizations that are involved in the Best Practice Spotlight Organization® (BPSO®) program. “I’m excited to return to RNAO and continue to strengthen integration across the pillars of BPG development, implementation and evaluation,” Rey-Lloyd says. “RNAO has generated an abundance of knowledge and real-world evidence thanks to BPGs and the work of BPSOs. My goal is to further support the scale and spread of the program overall, and to build on RNAO’s contribution to the field of implementation science.” Before joining RNAO, Rey-Lloyd was the executive data officer and director of Centre for Data Intelligence and Innovation at Ontario’s Inspectorate of Policing. She has also held director roles at Cancer Care Ontario, Western University, Health Quality Ontario and leadership roles at other organizations including the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.
NPs in Ottawa waiting on for approval to open clinic
RNAO NP members Hoda Mankal and Joanna Binch are ready to bring mental health and addiction care, as well as primary care, to Ottawa’s most vulnerable. They’re just waiting for funding approval from the province to open their NP-led clinic and get to work. There are currently only 25 NP-led clinics in the province, none of which are in Ottawa. NPs have the ability to provide many of the services that a family physician can, including writing prescriptions, ordering tests and interpreting lab results. RNAO has been urging the government to fund additional NP-led clinics because, without ready access to a primary care provider, many people rely on emergency departments or walk-in clinics, which are often unable to provide care continuity or prevent complications. “This is an urgent and complex problem that requires system collaboration and a team-based care approach,” Mankal and Binch say. Their proposal to the Ontario government notes their clinic would employ the equivalent of 12 full-time NPs, with 21 NPs already committed to working part-time. Their proposal is not the only one on the list for approval. RNAO is also advocating for NP-led clinic applications in Peterborough and Orillia, along with several others. (Ottawa Citizen, Oct. 23)
RNAO CEO receives honorary doctorate from Chile’s University of Valparaíso
RNAO CEO Dr. Doris Grinspun received an honorary doctorate from Chile’s University of Valparaíso in a ceremony held on Oct. 13, 2023. A statement from the school highlighted Grinspun’s visionary leadership that inspires those around the world: “Her tireless work to raise the profile and influence of nurses in the health-care system has been instrumental in driving significant change and improving outcomes for patients.” For Grinspun, who was born in Chile, this recognition is especially meaningful. “The university’s recognition of my contributions is a tremendous honour. I have always been a firm believer that the people we serve must be top-of-mind when it comes to developing healthy public policy and best practices in education and care delivery,” she says. RNAO’s Best Practice Guidelines Program and its Best Practice Spotlight Organization® (BPSO®) social movement of science, founded by Grinspun, has already made an impact on health care in Chile as a network of universities have become BPSOs under the leadership of the Universidad de Chile and Dr. Amalia Silva, BPSO Host Academic. There has also been an expansion of BPSOs in service organizations across Chile - with 40 hospitals - led by Felipe Cortes Leddy, national director of nursing and Roberto Garcia at the ministry of health, which acts as “BPSO Host” for the entire public health system in Chile. In addition, several major private not-for-profit hospital chains, such as UC Christus and BUPA, have joined to achieve their BPSO designation.
Letter to the editor
In a letter to the editor, Sudbury RN Maria Casas, who is policy and political action executive network officer for the local chapter, writes about the dangers of moving towards for-profit health care (Sudbury.com, Nov. 17).
Terry Martyn’s recent letter clearly describes the concerns with Doug Ford’s plan to introduce more private health care to reduce wait times for care and increase efficiencies in Ontario’s health-care system.
Increasing capacity in other centres not only erodes our public health system, it threatens to worsen it. The already stretched health human resources can only be further depleted if nurses and other regulated professionals leave the public system to work elsewhere.
Furthermore, for-profit health care compromises quality, costs more, expands a two-tier system, and worsens wait times. We are already facing a crisis in our public system – this will make it worse.
A recent CBC investigation revealed that the provincial government is paying private clinics as much as twice the amount it reimburses the public system for the same procedures. This cannot equate to a cost-efficient way to get more surgeries done, as the premier and health minister have promised. It does equate to great profits for the private sector.
As Mr. Martyn stated, allowing private, for-profit care is an overly simplistic solution to a complex problem and it’s a bad idea.
RNAO marks Remembrance Day
On Nov. 11, RNAO President Dr. Claudette Holloway marked Remembrance Day at a service at East York Civic Centre Memorial Gardens, laying a wreath on behalf of the association and its 51,650 members. Jessica McGregor, a member of RNAO's Region 4 executive team, also laid a wreath on behalf of RNAO at a ceremony in Caledon East.
Local hospital recruiting nurses
Collingwood General and Marine Hospital held a career information night on Nov. 9 to encourage high school students to consider a career in health care. Students learned about a variety of jobs in nursing, physiotherapy, diagnostic imaging, respiratory therapy and nutrition (i.e. dietician). RNAO student member Arptia Roy talked with a local newspaper ahead of the event, sharing details of what drew her to nursing. A second-year nursing student in the Bachelor of Science Program at Georgian College, Roy said that she made the decision to go into nursing in high school when she witnessed the care given to her grandfather after he had a stroke. “I was there with him in the hospital and I saw the nurses caring for him and I thought to myself, ‘this is the best way to give back to the community.’” Are you a current undergraduate nursing student, but not an RNAO member? Learn more about the benefits of membership for students. (Simcoe.com, Nov. 9)
RN helps future physicians by acting as patient
RNAO member and RN Patrick Bélec has been volunteering as a standardized patient at Northern Ontario School of Medicine (NOSM) University since 2021. As a standardized patient, he plays the role of a “real” patient for medical students who need to strengthen their clinical skills before graduating. As a volunteer, Bélec is trained to simulate a set of symptoms or a particular health condition to help medical students become more skilled at taking patient histories and performing physical exams. He says he was encouraged to become a volunteer by a fellow student while in nursing school. He says that the role is just as useful for him as a nurse because it provides him the opportunity to be in a different role within a health-care setting. “It gives me an idea on how doctors are formed and I get to see the other side of the gurney. I have always been involved in education and I love teaching.” (The Sudbury Star, Nov. 19)
Arbitrator’s ruling grants hospital nurses pay increase
On July 20, arbitrator William Kaplan ruled that Ontario’s hospital nurses will receive a wage increase of approximately 11 per cent, on average, over the next two years. RNAO issued a media release in response to the news, highlighting that increased compensation is the first recommendation in our Nursing Career Pathways report. In a radio interview on CityNews 570, The Mike Farwell Show (July 24), RNAO President Dr. Claudette Holloway said “This is a significant step in the right direction to show value for nurses. This is a great start to help nurses stay in Ontario and we want to continue to see steps to build nurses’ careers here in Ontario.” Noting this agreement only covers hospital nurses, and that there is so much more that needs to be done, Holloway congratulated the Ontario Nurses’ Association (ONA) on its robust role representing nurses in the arbitration process, and committed that RNAO will continue urging government to strengthen retention programs. Speaking about other steps to address the challenges in health care, Holloway discussed the need to further increase seats in nursing education, offer more bridging programs for RPNs to become RNs, fund NP-led clinics, and hasten the utilization of NPs in long-term care. Holloway also spoke on Zoomer Radio about the announcement and its effect on nurses. “Nurses, like everyone else, have to make a living and support their families. But it’s about more than just the money for nurses,” she said. This “acknowledgement that there is a nursing crisis” will certainly attract nurses back and show them that they are valued after so many years of governments refusing to compensate them fairly, Holloway added. (Zoomer Radio, July 24)
The high cost of the nursing shortage*
Staffing shortfalls across the health system mean hospitals are relying more and more on private agencies to help fill the gap. Markham Stouffville Hospital emergency department RN Basil Byfield knows firsthand that it’s been tough to retain staff. During his 30-year career in emergency nursing, Byfield says that he has seen the downside of this stop-gap solution, and in particular, the downside of a divided workforce. On the issue of wage parity – agency nurses can sometimes earn more than double what staff nurses earn – he notes: “It can be demoralizing for regular staff having to do the same job but getting less pay.” RN Kian Johnson says she originally picked up shifts through an agency to supplement her full-time hospital job. She is now studying to become a nurse practitioner and is exclusively working for an agency. The impetus, she says, was the flexibility it allowed, “…as well as the financial increase.” Since December 2020, RNAO has raised the alarm about the nursing crisis that will compromise patient safety and the functioning of our health system. We are now deep in that crisis, and this trend toward more agency nurses is only exacerbating the issues. “I feel like we’re not respected in the sense that our needs are not being met,” Kian says. (CBC The National, May 12). Read below for more about how members of RNAO’s Middlesex Elgin chapter are continuing to raise alarm bells on the wage parity issue with MPPs in their own community.