February 10 2022 COVID-19 report


Dear Colleagues: Welcome to my Thursday, February 10 blog during this twenty fifth month of COVID-19 in Ontario. You can find earlier update reports here, including thematic pieces in Doris’ COVID-19 Blog. And, for the many resources RNAO offers on COVID-19, please visit the COVID-19 Portal where you will also find RNAO media hits and releases on the pandemic here. Daily Situational Reports from Ontario’s MOH EOC can be found here. Share this report and link broadly. Scroll down for upcoming RNAO webinars.

This week we share: 1) RNAO’s In Focus page on Black Nurses; 2) report calling for an end to anti-Black systemic racism and discrimination within the nursing profession; 3) the shocking siege of Ottawa by anti-mandate truckers and why the whole world should be terribly worried; and 4) whose freedom is the ‘freedom convoy’ fighting for anyway?

Visit RNAO’s In Focus page on Black Nurses

This week RNAO celebrated Black History Month with the launch of the Black Nurses Task Force (BNTF) final report. The report tackles head-on structural racism within nursing organizations, regulatory bodies, associations and the broader health system. Please scroll down for the media release summarizing the findings and recommendations in the report.

I invite you to visit RNAO’s In Focus webpage on Black Nurses and RNAO, which captures the comprehensive and challenging work that RNAO is doing, led by outstanding Black nursing leaders.

Through this work, RNAO vows to address the systemic racism that exists within the nursing profession, as well as all health sectors and academic settings. The association and its members acknowledge the grief, distress and trauma brought on by centuries of historical injustices and discrimination experienced by Black nurses, their loved ones and their communities. RNAO is acting in partnership with its Black members, colleagues and their allies to mobilize change.

RNAO has had three Black presidents in its history: Dr. Jocelyn Hezekiah from 1979-1981, the late Dr. Joan Lesmond from 2004-2006 and Dr. Angela Cooper Brathwaite from 2018-2020. Dr. Claudette Holloway became RNAO’s president-elect in June 2021 and will be our president from 2022 to 2024.

The In Focus page describes the journey leading to the BNTF. Our COVID-19 webinar series focused on the topic of Let’s Talk about Anti-Black Racism and Discrimination in Nursing starting in June 2020, as a group of passionate nurses engaged in meaningful conversations about experiences of and solutions to tackle systemic racism in Ontario and within our health system. RNAO announced in June 2020 the search for panelist members in the BNTF striving to reach the mandate of actively tackling anti-Black racism within the nursing profession. RNAO Past-President Dr. Angela Cooper Brathwaite and nurse practitioner Corsita Garraway served as BNTF co-chairs.

In July 2021 RNAO’s BOD approved the application of the Black Nurses Leading Change (BNLC) to become an interest group of RNAO co-chaired by Daria Adèle Jüudi-Hope and Dania Versailles. BNLC supports the work of RNAO’s Black Nurses Task Force and continues to inform RNAO and its members on issues affecting Black nurses and nursing students. BNLC advocates for anti-racism, offers mentorship, provides continuing education and a safe space for Black nurses and nursing students – and their allies – to network and interact with each other.

Read further on the In Focus page about RNAO’s partnerships and engagements, including the commemoration of Emancipation Day, Black History Month and Black August. Read as well RNAO’s position statement on racism and our letter to the College of Nurses of Ontario urging for the collection of race-based and Indigenous identity data. Learn also about capacity building as well as RNAO and Black nurses in the media.

Finally, in the In Focus page, learn how RNAO staff are leading change through the RNAO Black Colleagues Task Force.

Nursing report calls to end anti-Black racism and discrimination within the profession 

Toronto, Feb. 8, 2022. In a groundbreaking report released today, the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario’s (RNAO) Black Nurses Task Force (BNTF) unveiled recommendations to tackle structural racism within nursing organizations, regulatory bodies, associations and the broader health system.

“For years, Black nurses have been afraid to speak out about the microaggressions, discrimination and racism they face within academic and workplace settings for fear of reprisal and the suppressive behaviours of managers,” says BNTF co-chair and RNAO Past-President Dr. Angela Cooper Brathwaite. “Today, during Black History Month, we’re proud to release a report that sheds a light on the challenges and barriers Black nurses face and the solutions that will help us eliminate anti-Black racism and discrimination within the nursing profession.”

The BNTF is made up of 17 Black nurses and nursing students working in various sectors of the health system with a mandate to tackle systemic racism and discrimination within nursing.

The report, Acknowledging, Addressing and Tackling Anti-Black Racism and Discrimination Within the Nursing Profession, features 19 recommendations. The BNTF was guided in its work by four main pillars: education and awareness building; research; advocacy at all levels; and partnership with allies and stakeholders. The report also includes information from a scoping review of the literature and results from an online survey of 205 Black nurses across Ontario.

The report’s recommendations are:

  • Include racism and discrimination as a topic in nursing and interprofessional curriculums.
  • Provide equitable and fair placements for Black nurses in all practice settings.
  • Provide mentoring programs for nursing students to enhance academic achievements, reduce stress, anxiety and dropout rates and to empower Black students.
  • Create educational and research grants/financial incentives/scholarships targeted specifically for Black applicants.
  • Develop and implement anti-racism, anti-oppression, cultural safety, and diversity, equity and inclusion training and orientation for staff at all levels in all workplace and academic settings.
  • Include diversity, equity and inclusion committees in all workplaces and academic settings to address racism and discrimination.
  • Hold all staff (professors, managers, health-care providers) accountable for addressing racial discrimination and develop specific strategies to combat it.
  • Acknowledge systemic racism and discrimination exists at individual, organization and policy levels. Non-Black nurses must self-identify and address their individual biases. They must be encouraged by their organization to continually engage in reflective practice and delve into their perceptions and experiences to assess inherent biases and values.
  • Create safe spaces for Black nurses to open up about the discrimination and oppression they face in professional settings.
  • Embed mentorship programs in workplaces for Black nurses to facilitate professional growth and development, and to improve retention and recruitment of Black employees.
  • Provide tools and resources to support Black nurses as they navigate difficult challenges when dealing with residents, patients or families who display racism.
  • Advocate for diversity in leadership, senior and/or administrative, education roles in the nursing profession as well as health sectors.
  • Increase access to mental health supports in the workplace and academic settings to address traumas related to racism.
  • Develop and enforce policies on anti-racism, such as zero tolerance of racism from staff, nursing leaders, patients and families.
  • Collect and disseminate race-based data.
  • Provide mandatory courses or workshops that include topics of cultural humility, anti-oppressive behaviors, anti-racism and trauma-informed care in orientation and continuing education programs.
  • Stand in solidarity through partnership with health-care associations and organizations; advocate to diversify their senior team and provide equitable opportunities for Black individuals at the senior executive/management level.
  • Advocate for the federal and provincial governments to address racism against Black Canadians and include Black History within the educational curriculum in Canada.
  • Advocate for the establishment of a commission similar to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to investigate and address racism against Black Canadians.

“The recommendations outlined in this report speak to the dire need to address and ultimately expunge racism from our profession. The report highlights the devastating impact systemic racism is having on the lived experiences and mental health of Black nurses in academic and workplace settings,” says BNTF co-chair and nurse practitioner Corsita Garraway. “All health-care and academic organizations must immediately take action and acknowledge that anti-Black racism is deeply entrenched in the history of nursing in Ontario and Canada.”

“RNAO is calling for an end to anti-Black racism within the profession and the dismantling of systemic racism in Ontario. Racism is a determinant of health that plays a key role in generating and reinforcing social inequities,” says RNAO CEO Dr. Doris Grinspun, who launched the task force in June 2020 after the murder of George Floyd sent chills across the world and those who have experienced anti-Black racism and violence. Grinspun says “no sector, profession or organization is immune to the ingrained effects of systemic racism, including nursing and health care. We are determined to leave no stone unturned until we end systemic racism within our profession and beyond.”

“RNAO will continue to use its platform to call for decisive action from national and provincial nursing organizations and institutions to enact meaningful change to overcome the systemic racism that exists in our profession. Racism is a public health crisis that cannot be ignored. It threatens the health and well-being of racialized nurses, it limits their contributions to the health system and it interferes with their ability to provide safe, compassionate and ethical care to Ontarians,” says RNAO President Morgan Hoffarth.

In addition to these 19 recommendations, RNAO developed specific actions to grow allyship and solidarity with Black nurses within its own organization. This includes a plan to integrate anti-racism and discrimination training for all staff during the onboarding process, develop a human resources framework that promotes equitable hiring practices and stand in solidarity with organizations that are instituting advisory committees for marginalized nurses and encourage organizations in Ontario to have such committees.

The whole world should be worried by the ‘siege of Ottawa’. This is about much more than a few anti-vaxx truckers

How did this ‘grassroots’ rebellion paralyse the Canadian capital? With funding from the far right and a boost from Facebook misinformation. The following is an article by Arwa Mahdawi published in UK’s The Guardian on Feb. 8. The original article can be accessed here.

What the truck is going on in Canada? No offence to Ottawa, but it’s not the most exciting place in the world. Over the past couple of weeks, however, the Canadian capital has been embroiled in drama: hundreds of truckers, ostensibly protesting against vaccine mandates, have brought the city to a standstill. Members of the so-called “Freedom Truck Convoy” have been blaring horns, desecrating war memorials and setting off fireworks. Residents are being driven to distraction. The police chief has called the situation a “siege”; the Ontario premier called it “an occupation”. On Monday, the city’s mayor, Jim Watson, declared a state of emergency.

There’s a lot going on in the world right now. If you’re not Canadian, then the protest in Ottawa might not be top of your list of things to worry about. But I’m afraid you should be worried. You should certainly be paying attention. What’s unfolding in Ottawa is not a grassroots protest that has spontaneously erupted out of the frustration of local lorry drivers. Rather, it’s an astroturfed movement – one that creates an impression of widespread grassroots support where little exists – funded by a global network of highly organised far-right groups and amplified by Facebook’s misinformation machine. The drama may be centred in Canada, but what is unfolding has repercussions for us all.

That’s a big claim, so let me break it down. We’ll start with the Canadian lorry drivers. The people protesting against vaccine mandates, it can’t be stressed enough, are by no means representative of the Canadian haulage industry as a whole. Just 10% of cross-border drivers refused the jabs, according to the Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA), meaning that from 15 January they can no longer cross back into Canada without quarantine. The CTA, along with other major industry organisations, has disavowed the protest. The protesters don’t represent the vast majority of lorry drivers, nor are they representative of public sentiment towards vaccines in Canada – a country where 84% of the population, children included, have received at least one vaccine dose. They are, as Justin Trudeau has said, a “small fringe”.

They may be a fringe minority, but that doesn’t mean you should (as Trudeau seems to be doing) downplay or dismiss them. For one, they have a lot of powerful supporters. The usual crowd of rightwing politicians in the US, including Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, have been cheering them on. They have also been getting millions of dollars in funding across crowdfunding sites from international donors.

“Donations from abroad are quite a common part of any large crowdfunding campaign,” Ciaran O’Connor, an expert on online extremism at the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, told Politico. “But the scale of this one is unprecedented.”

Another reason why you should take the Ottawa protests seriously? Thanks to the wonders of modern technology, fringe groups can have an outsize influence. I’m sure you’ve heard of troll farms: organised groups that weaponise social media to spread misinformation, promote division and influence public opinion. Get this: in the long run-up to the 2020 US elections, Facebook’s most popular pages for Christian and Black American content were being run by eastern European troll farms. According to an internal Facebook report written in late 2019 and leaked to MIT Technology Review, troll farms were reaching 140 million users every month. Three-quarters of these users had never followed any of the pages: they’d had the content thrust upon them by Facebook’s engagement-hungry content-recommendation system.

“Our platform has given the largest voice in the African American community to a handful of bad actors, who, based on their media production practices, have never had an interaction with an African American,” wrote the report’s author, a former senior-level data scientist at Facebook. “Instead of users choosing to receive content from these actors, it is our platform that is choosing to give [these troll farms] an enormous reach.”

After that report was leaked in September, Facebook made a lot of noises about how it was aggressively cracking down on troll farms. Has it followed through on these promises? Meta Platforms, Facebook’s owner, said on Monday that it had removed dozens of scam pages associated with the convoy protest from Facebook; however, there are still a huge number of recently created pages supporting the hauliers, with suspiciously large numbers of followers. Meanwhile, on Telegram, a social network favoured by the right, people across the world are urging each other to replicate the tactics in Canada in their home towns. Canada may not be on the brink of civil war, but what is happening in Ottawa is one small front in a global information war. And the baddies, I’m afraid to say, are winning.

Whose freedom is the ‘freedom convoy’ fighting for? Not everyone’s

This is an article by Gerald Walton, Professor in Education of Gender, Sexuality and Identity, Lakehead University. This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

The so-called “freedom convoy” has captured worldwide attention as a minority of truckers and their supporters have asserted their right to assemble and oppose COVID-19 protocols imposed by the federal, provincial and territorial governments. No problem there.

The problem lies in what’s not being said or acknowledged.

The one-word rallying cry — freedom — is the activist mantra. Who could be against freedom? But let’s take stock of the freedom that some have exercised during the ongoing rally:

In the tantrum for so-called freedom, the majority of participants have not denounced or condemned these reprehensible, well-documented behaviours which, notably, have gone mostly without consequence.

It’s worth noting that a freedom they’re demanding — the right to refuse COVID-19 vaccinations without curtailing their livelihood — poses immense risk not only to themselves but to everyone else, while also draining the health-care system and denying treatments for others.

Whose freedom?

But what might “freedom” mean to other Canadians?

Ask Indigenous people about freedom. Ask them about centuries of abuse and genocide at the hands of colonists. Ask them about the legacies of residential school horrors and abuse. Ask them about the devastation of the ‘60s scoop and continued government control over child welfare.

Ask Indigenous people about the ongoing subtle and overt racism they face from Canadians every day. Where is their freedom from bigotry and prejudice that continues to flourish?

Ask Muslim Canadians about their freedom from ignorance and discrimination in the form of Islamophobia expressed in verbal and physical assault and even mass murder.

Ask Asian Canadians about intolerance and racism from other Canadians who blame them for COVID-19. Where is their freedom from the sheer stupidity of others?

Ask women and girls who continue to face sexism, sexual harassment, sexual assault and sexual exploitation at the hands of men. What about their freedom from gender-based violence?

Ask trans people who regularly have to deal with transphobia. Ask people who are immigrants, disabled, poor, overweight, speak a language other than English. Ask any of the usual targets of social prejudice, ignorance, discrimination and hate about how their freedoms are constantly trampled on by other Canadians.

Not everyone’s freedom

Freedom is important, but many Canadians aren’t being considered by the “freedom convoy.”

I have been conducting research on social exclusion and prejudice since 1996. It is my job to listen to people tell their stories in the classes that I teach. I listen carefully to the experiences of exclusion, ridicule and discrimination marginalized people face in a country that is supposedly equal for all. Maybe the “freedom convoy” should likewise listen carefully.

I also know about freedom first-hand. As a queer Canadian, I can attest to how homophobia raises its ugly head any time, anywhere. We don’t have the freedom to be ourselves the way many straight, cisgender people take for granted.

When I hear people at the rally passionately advocate for their freedom, but not others, I can’t help but see ignorance. Fortunately, education is a remedy for ignorance.

The human rights struggles over the decades that continue to play out in Canada are about freedom. That is what Canada’s human rights history and the Canadian Museum for Human Rights make clear — as do research hubs such as the Centre for Human Rights Research.

What this “freedom convoy” is really about is self-interest. It is a petulant demand for participants to be able to do whatever they want, whenever they want, regardless of anyone else. Freedom is limited to what they can see in the mirror.

Instead of a self-serving, diesel-stinking, neighbourhood-clogging mob that is having such an adverse effect on the freedom of others, they should consider going home and learning about Canada from the perspectives of others.

At home, no masks are required.


COVID-19 Webinar Series

Feb 14, 2022, 2:00pm - 4:00pm

Topic: How internationally educated nurses can help solve the nursing crisis: A panel discussion and stories from IENs

Over 20,000 internationally educated nurses (IEN) are eager to be registered in Ontario to help fix the nursing crisis exacerbated by COVID-19.

Come listen to a panel discussion with #IENs that will address the following topics:

  • the lived experiences of IENs who are facing an arduous process to meet registration requirements and practice as registered nurses in Ontario
  • overview of the various roadblocks to registration in Ontario
  • why temporary initiatives such as the Long-Term Care Staffing Pool Program are unhelpful and short-sighted
  • actions RNAO is taking to expedite the path to registration in Ontario

Join in the discussion to learn about the issues and how you can help advocate for swift and appropriate solutions.

To learn more and take action in our campaign to help #IENs visit our IENaction page and follow @RNAO, #IENaction and #NursingCrisis on Twitter. 


Best Practice Champions Virtual Workshop Session 1

Feb 15, 2022, 1:00pm - 4:00pm

The Best Practice Champions Network team has established a new, two-part Best Practice Champions Virtual Workshop to replace the in-person champions workshops. This free, online educational opportunity consists of a brief pre-recorded introductory video, and two live virtual sessions to be completed in sequential order.

The Best Practice Champions Virtual Workshop series will be offered monthly, with session 1 and session 2 each taking place once a month. This will provide you with ample opportunity to select the live session that best suits your work schedule. This online educational opportunity can be completed individually or as a group.

For details and registration, please go here.

Wisdom in Wound Care Webinar Series: Pressure Injury, Wound Bed Preparation and Debridement Options

Feb 16, 2022, 12:00pm - 12:45pm

The Wisdom in Wound Care Webinar Series offers 12 monthly, 45-minute webinars hosted by RNAO and facilitated by wound care experts in Ontario. The webinar series will cover best practices in relation to acute and chronic wound prevention, assessment and treatment. 

The mission of the webinar series is to reduce the physiological, psychological and the fiscal burden of wounds throughout Ontario by building clinical expertise using best practices related to wound care. 

For details and registration, go here.

Caring for Residents with Vision Loss: Reducing Falls and Increasing Independence

Feb 16, 2022, 1:30pm - 2:30pm

Join RNAO’s Long-Term Care Best Practices Program and Vision Loss Rehabilitation Canada (VLRC) for an informative webinar.

This presentation with a panel of speakers will explore the impact of falls on long-term care (LTC) homes.

For details and registration, go here.

Best Practice Champions Virtual Workshop - Session 2

Feb 22, 2022, 1:00pm - 4:00pm

The Best Practice Champions Network team has established a new, two-part Best Practice Champions Virtual Workshop to replace the in-person champions workshops. This free, online educational opportunity consists of a brief pre-recorded introductory video, and two live virtual sessions to be completed in sequential order.

The Best Practice Champions Virtual Workshop series will be offered monthly, with session 1 and session 2 taking place once a month. This will provide you with ample opportunity to select the live session that best suits your work schedule. This online educational opportunity can be completed individually or as a group.

For further information and registration, go here.

MOH EOC Situational Report

We are posting each day the Daily Situational Reports from Ontario's MOH EOC at RNAO’s website. That way, you can access the Ministry’s guidance at any time.

For a detailed Ontario epidemiological summary from Public Health Ontario, you can go here.

According to the latest Situation Report #613 for February 9, the case count was as follows: 1,061,403 total, + 3,162 change from yesterday; 11,944 deaths, 66 change from yesterday.

Staying in touch          

Keeping in touch and being part of a community helps us get through challenging times. Keep telling us how we, at RNAO, can best support you. Send us your questions, comments, and challenges. Recommend ideas for articles and webinars. Write to me at <dgrinspun@rnao.ca> and copy to < ceo-ea@rnao.ca>. RNAO’s Board of Directors and our entire staff want you to know: WE ARE HERE FOR YOU!

Thank you for continuing to be there for your community, everywhere and in all roles! Together, in solidarity, we are stronger. Thanks for encouraging your colleagues, their loved ones and your communities to be fully vaccinated – including booster shots. Keep reminding them that COVID-19 is aerosol and that proper ventilation and N95 masking is not just preferred but necessary.

Let’s also be thoughtful and remember Dr. Tedros when he said that “#VaccineEquity is not an act of charity; it’s the best and fastest way to control the pandemic globally, and to reboot the global economy.” Canada has purchased more vaccines than what it needs, while the poorest countries in the world have almost nothing. Like with other challenges we face – systemic discrimination and climate change – we are not safe until everyone is safe. Vaccines for all – literally for all, across the world – must guide policy in the upcoming months. Let’s learn from the 22-month pandemic and take real action to build a better world.

To everyone – THANK YOU! Please take care of yourself and know that RNAO always stands by you!

Here’s one constant throughout the pandemic. The silver lining of COVID-19 has been to come together and work as one people for the good of all. Let’s join efforts to demand that political leaders protect patients, students, and workers – and secure #Vaccines4All.

Doris Grinspun, RN,MSN, PhD, LLD(hon), Dr(hc), FAAN, FCAN, O.ONT
Chief Executive Officer, RNAO


2 Feb - Let’s not play Russian roulette with Omicron and embrace it as inevitable – go here.

2 Feb - RNAO calls out extremist and hateful actions driven by far-right on display in Ottawa – go here.

2 Feb - Honouring Black History Month 2022 – go here.

26 Jan - Listening to internationally educated nurses living in Ontario and eager to nurse – go here.

26 Jan - RNAO’s letter to the College of Nurses of Ontario regarding IENs – go here.

26 Jan - Prioritize health system pressures ahead of lifting public health measures – go here.

18 Jan - TousAntiCovid - France's contact tracing tool and health pass – go here.

18 Jan - RNAO’s submission to the Toronto Board of Health on return to school – go here.

12 Jan - A message as we begin 2022 amid a fifth wave – go here.

12 Jan - A health system on the verge of total collapse – An open letter to Premier Doug Ford – go here.

12 Jan - RNAO’s continuing media profile: The December 2021 report – go here.

12 Jan - Canada isn’t responding with foresight when it comes to COVID-19 – go here.

21 Dec - RNAO addresses nursing crisis, Omicrom-led wave and preventing health-system collapse – go here.

14 Dec - What we know about Omicron two weeks after it became a variant of concern – go here.

14 Dec - Omicron variant caseload expected to 'rapidly escalate' in the coming days, Tam says – go here.

14 Dec - Repeal Bill 124 – RNAO asks for pledge of support from Members of the Provincial Parliament – go here.

14 Dec - Ontario’s nursing crisis: Next steps in #RepealBill124 campaign – go here.

7 Dec - RNAO’s continuing media profile: The November 2021 report – go here.

7 Dec - South African envoy calls on Canada to support waiver on COVID-19 vaccines – go here.

7 Dec - RNAO welcomes expansion of boosters and says Omicron is the #VaccineInjusticeVariant – go here.

28 Nov - Omicron edition: Uncertainty, uncertainty, uncertainty – go here.

28 Nov - The NHS staffing crisis is killing people – and this winter it will be even worse – go here.

28 Nov - A note to Premier Ford: Repeal Bill 124! – go here.

21 Nov - I’m an infectious disease doctor. Yes, I’m vaccinating our 5-year-old against COVID-19. Here is why you should too – go here.

21 Nov - Rich countries only shared 14% of COVID-19 vaccine doses promised to poorer nations – go here.

21 Nov - Nurses gather in Toronto to rally: Recap of #RepealBill124 rally and next steps – go here.

14 Nov - Nurses celebrate National Nurse Practitioner Week and call for scope expansion to improve access to the health system – go here.

14 Nov - Congratulations to all NPs during National Nurse Practitioner Week – go here.

14 Nov - Ontario nurses discuss the crisis in the profession during RNAO’s Fall Tour – go here.

14 Nov - Ontario’s RN understaffing crisis: Impact and solution – go here.

6 Nov - RNAO’s continuing media profile: The October 2021 report – go here.

6 Nov - Ontario’s economic statement signals government’s concerns with nursing human resources – go here.

6 Nov - RNAO deeply disappointed with Premier Ford’s decision on mandatory vaccination – go here.

We have posted earlier ones in my blog here. I invite you to look.