Dr. Claudette Holloway

Memories of my first year as president

I am writing this column just weeks after our in-person Annual General Meeting (AGM). For those of you who had the pleasure and privilege of being in attendance, there was an energy in the air that was both infectious and inspiring, and which enhanced my pride as an RNAO member and as your president. The strength of our collective – RNs, NPs, nursing students and board of directors – supported by RNAO’s amazing staff makes us an organization that nurses and Ontarians can depend on.

For those who couldn’t attend, this recap of my first year as president represents some of the highlights of our collective work over the past year. It is work that fits so well with our AGM theme of Change Through Unity and Action. It has been a momentous year, with many examples of how our unity and ever-increasing actions are being seen and heard.

To begin, we celebrated a new milestone in RNAO membership, surpassing 50,000. Members’ work in all sectors, specialties and roles – including nursing students – is valued, appreciated and makes us a formidable force.

As nurses, our education, knowledge and clinical expertise are second to none. We hold a deep understanding of how to improve timely access to quality care for Ontarians, and how to optimize their health outcomes. The pandemic certainly put our health system and nurses to the test. And yet, we continued to advocate for vital changes such as making the case for movement on RN prescribing, more NP-led clinics, more seats in nursing schools, and lobbying for changes to workloads and compensation.

There is no better example of this than the recommendations to strengthen the nursing profession for Ontarians, contained in RNAO’s Nursing Career Pathways report. This report offers concrete solutions to strengthen our profession so you can fulfill your career aspirations within Ontario and be fully equipped to provide people with the care they need during all ages and stages of life. 

We know that attention to social determinants of health is key to solving many of the health issues people experience. That’s why RNAO continues to urge policymakers to adopt more preventive approaches to harm reduction, social supports and the environment, to name a few. The dollars we invest today will help us save down the road and, most important, decrease unnecessary suffering and death.

Our call for comprehensive harm reduction – which includes increased access to supervised consumption services, a safer supply and decriminalization of personal possession – will save lives and provide dignity to those struggling with substance use.

Your engagement in RNAO motivates us, fuels our energy, and reinforces RNAO’s reputation as a trusted voice.

Our relentless advocacy to double the rate people receive through the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) is critical.  Even with a recent modest increase, hundreds of thousands find it impossible to subsist day-to-day on their own and require help from loved ones, friends and social agencies.

Equally important is the action we demand on the climate crisis. Yes, we are in a full-blown crisis. The summer’s baking heat, along with forest fires, drought and floods provides proof of the climate emergency. It is devastating and wreaking havoc on people’s lives. I invite you to look at our annual report, where our work on this and other priorities is detailed.

The future of our health system is another area where we have remained engaged, calling for an increase the Canada Health Transfer. And we insist it not come at the expense of our publicly funded health system. RNAO is vociferous in its opposition to the Ontario government’s Bill 60 and its expansion of investor-driven, for-profit clinics. These clinics will harm, not ease surgical backlogs and wait times. They will put profits ahead of patients.

Our internationally renowned Best Practice Guidelines (BPG) program – and other work supporting clinicians – continues to lead at home and abroad. We thank you for your active participation in using and sharing with others RNAO’s tremendous resources, and for joining us in webinars, institutes, symposiums and workshops. Our CEO Dr. Doris Grinspun writes about the program in detail in her column this issue. I encourage you to read it.

During the past year, we have also continued our work to address systemic racism and discrimination in all its forms within the nursing profession. We launched the RNAO Health Equity Consortium (RHEC), which brings together our health equity interest groups and staff to dive deep for the sustained change in equity-seeking communities. I was especially proud to moderate our closing keynote presentation at this year’s AGM. You can read more about the presentation in our coverage of the AGM. This closing session enabled us to once again discuss the systemic racism and discrimination experienced by Black, Indigenous and LGBT2S+I people in the nursing profession and in health-care settings. So much more needs to be said and heard.

Your engagement in RNAO motivates us, fuels our energy, and reinforces RNAO’s reputation as a trusted voice. Whether you take an MPP to work, meet them in their office as part of Queen’s Park on the Road, demand answers from politicians at the microphone during Queen’s Park Day, or sign our action alerts – we thank you for demonstrating change through unity and action.

I look forward to meeting many more of you as I embark on the second year of my presidency, especially during our upcoming Fall Tour. This year, our president-elect Lhamo Dolkar will be joining me and our CEO as we crisscross the province to meet with you. 

I want to thank Morgan Hoffarth, who has ended her official role as immediate past-president. I also want to thank our CEO for her extraordinary work, commitment and vision for a better tomorrow. I have never been prouder of our association.

Spring-Summer 2023
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