July 3 2021 COVID-19 report
Dear Colleagues: Welcome to our Saturday, July 3 report during this seventeenth 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. As always, feel free to share this report and links with anyone interested. Scroll down for policy updates for all to act on & must join events.
In today’s report we share: (1) an update on RNAO’s eventful 96th Annual General Meeting; and (2) our June media report. Get started by reading RNAO’s 2020-2021 annual report!
Reminder to answer the survey on nurses’ wellbeing (for ALL RNs, NPs, RPNs, LPNs and nursing students in Canada). Deadline to fill out the survey is July 31. Go here to answer.
COVID-19 has had a profound impact on the nursing community worldwide. We thank RNs, RPN/LPNs, NPs and nursing students across Canada who have already responded to this international survey. If you have not yet done so, please consider the impact it will have. The aim of this survey is to find out how nurses are feeling about their work, and how they have been impacted by COVID-19, across a comparison of 150 countries. It will allow nursing associations, unions, and others to learn what we have in common, and what is different, in terms of nurses’ wellbeing and the crisis in nursing human resources.
Please go here to answer. Deadline to fill out the survey is July 31.
RNAO celebrates virtual 96th Annual General Meeting
With more than 800 registered nurses (RN), nurse practitioners (NP), nursing students, politicians and guests from all over Ontario and beyond joining us virtually, RNAO celebrated almost a century of success in health care and nursing at our 96th Annual General Meeting (AGM) on June 24-26.
The three-day event featured notable political and nursing leaders including President Morgan Hoffarth, Immediate Past-President Angela Cooper Brathwaite, RNAO’s board of directors, consultation representatives and myself. We joined members for meaningful sessions including the opening ceremonies, the release of RNAO’s newest best practice guideline (BPG) Promoting 2SLGBTQI+ Health Equity and a closing keynote discussion on the experiences of nurses during this pandemic. The theme Protecting Ontarians and Leading Change: Nurses and RNAO during COVID-19 defined this AGM with the resilience and dedication of nurses at the forefront.
The event began with a traditional opening and travelling song by Elder Perry McLeod-Shabogesic of the N’biising (Nipissing) First Nation Crane Clan who took a moment with us to remember the residential school deaths uncovered over the recent weeks and the physical, mental and emotional trauma that has swept the Indigenous communities.
This year’s AGM was hosted by the Ontario Nurses for the Environment Interest Group (ONEIG) who introduced the three-day AGM program. Victoria Ralph, executive member for ONEIG, greeted everyone with a smile and light-hearted tone: “This year’s AGM is once again taking place in an especially important time as we turn the corner of this pandemic, we celebrate the triumphs we had and the trying times we’ve faced and persevered through.”
Our strong influence and engaged dialogue with political leaders was evident when Deputy Premier and Health Minister Christine Elliott expressed her appreciation for RNAO’s relentless advocacy in health care. “More than ever during the pandemic, RNAO, under Doris’s leadership, has been a valued partner in our fight against COVID-19 as nurses have been on the front lines across our health-care system keeping Ontarians safe,” said Elliott.
Other political leaders such as Rod Phillips, minister of long-term care; Andrea Horwath, leader of the Official Opposition; Steven Del Duca, leader of the Ontario Liberal Party; and Mike Schreiner, leader of the Green Party of Ontario thanked RNAO members for their resilience. They also shared the work that still needs to be done, including improving mental health access for nurses and all Ontarians, making investments to retain nurses in the province and repealing Bill 124. International nursing leaders Annette Kennedy, president of the International Council of Nurses and Dr. Richard Ricciardi, president of Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing also shared greetings and praise for RNAO’s work, as well as their thoughts about tackling the pandemic worldwide.
RNAO’s Opening Ceremonies marked the graduation of 21 Canadian and international Best Practice Spotlight Organizations (BPSO) that completed their three-year candidacy with RNAO. They demonstrated commitment and capacity to implement multiple BPGs and create an evidence-based culture – even during a pandemic. Congratulations to the designated BPSOs – we look forward to continuing and enriching work together. Please watch our celebration video.
On June 25 we shared a virtual luncheon with nursing students. We celebrated their triumphs during the pandemic and were treated to a magnetic presentation by the Nursing Students of Ontario (NSO) titled Blazing New Trails as Student Leaders. Presenters Megan Wood, vice president of NSO; Rachel Radyk, co-founder of RNAO’s Indigenous Nurses and Allies Interest Group and Chantal Byrnes Leadbeater, NSO’s policy and political action officer spoke about their personal leadership stories. “I reflect on my journey and I look at my achievements as a leader. I wonder what I did differently to get to that path. And the answer is one simple thing: I believed in myself. I believed in my own voice and surrounded myself with positive people who would uplift me,” says Radyk.
We began the formal AGM with a moment of silence for RNAO past president and my dear friend Charlotte Noesgaard and all the Ontario nurses we lost during the pandemic. They will be missed and continue to live in our hearts and in our actions.
During my CEO report, I reflected on the added trauma that is sweeping Indigenous brothers and sisters as unmarked graves of residential school children are uncovered. I recommitted to use the power of RNAO to walk side by side in the fight to bring these children to rest in peace with their families.
I also introduced past nursing leaders who shined the way for nurses: Charlotte Edith Anderson (first Native Canadian RN), Mary Seacole (British Jamaican nurse), Harriet Tubman (American abolitionist and political activist) and Florence Nightingale (founder of modern nursing). I reflected on how nurses and RNAO’s response to the pandemic also sought, the same as those past leaders, to protect, support, inform and advocate for their communities. These are the four pillars of our COVID-19 response.
Even before the pandemic was declared – in January 2020 – we urged a precautionary approach to public health measures. We protected and served Ontarians by launching VIANurse. We supported nurses and the public through webinars and social movements such as #TogetherWeCanDoIt and #Maskathon. We kept nurses and other health professionals informed through our official COVID-19 portal, this blog that reaches over 300,000 at home and abroad, and 6,879 media hits since the start of the pandemic. And finally, we advocated for at-risk populations.
Alongside RNAO’s pandemic work to protect Ontarians and nurses, we continued to lead change. We brought policy initiatives for vulnerable populations such as long-term care residents and persons affected by the opioids crisis who were greatly impacted by the pandemic. We expanded the BPG program with three new BPGs, 21 graduating BPSOs and launching new BPSO/BPSO OHTs at home and abroad. We are immensely proud of our work with Indigenous communities developing Indigenous-led BPGs and BPSOs. Such advances are due to the work of RNAO’s formidable staff. I closed my CEO report presentation with important announcements: 1) a new Care Centre & RNAO Mentorship Program, 2) an NP Research Chair, and 3) RNAO uniforms. I will expand on these new initiatives in the weeks to come. At the end of the CEO report I was proud to unveil our 2020-2021 annual report, organized this year following the Board of Directors ENDs.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford joined us June 25 in the afternoon to thank RNAO and nurses and to share about healthcare investments by the Ontario government. I thanked the premier for his announcements and emphasized RNAO’s call for investments to retain nurses and combat the mass exodus from the profession following the pandemic. I reminded the Premier on his promise at Queen’s Park Day to increase university enrollment for 100 additional NPs this Fall, as well as to fund the hiring of an additional 100 NPs for long-term care. We also called on the provincial and federal governments to ensure an end to racism and discrimination and ensuring Indigenous communities have access to clean drinking water.
The results of one member, one vote were revealed and new directors elected: president-elect Claudette Holloway, Region 1 representative Rachel Colquhoun and Region 3 representative Loretta McCormick. RNAO’s board of directors for 2021-2022 is available online. As a grassroots organization, members debated 17 resolutions. One was on a strategy to address substance use. Another on including voices of First Nations, Inuit and Metis peoples when teaching nurses and providing care. A Board resolution requiring a clinical placement in LTC during the BScN program passed. Resolutions highlight the voices of members and guide RNAO during the year to come.
Recognition Awards honoured outstanding RNAO members and other health-care providers. Media Awards recognized top health-care journalists. Congratulations again to this year’s award recipients! Please see the Recognition Awards video and Media Awards video.
The second day of the AGM closed with president Morgan Hoffarth’s report. She shared her thoughts on her first term: “I’m so proud of how our professional association and members have shined over the past year. RNAO has been at the forefront in the media and advisory tables providing key updates and key information not just to members, but to the public.”
Morgan and I were also pleased to welcome president-elect Dr. Claudette Holloway who will take the reins next year. No doubt she will also be a formidable nursing leader representing RNAO and its members. We thanked deeply our Immediate Past-President Dr. Angela Cooper Brathwaite who has served eight years in the RNAO BOD and is the recipient of RNAO’s Merit Award and Leadership Award in Political Action. She is also the co-chair of the Black Nurses Task Force. Dr. Cooper-Brathwaite is a leader, educator, advocate and change agent making a difference in nursing and health systems, provincially and internationally. See our tribute video to Angela.
The final day of the AGM also coincided with Ontario’s Pride Weekend. RNAO celebrated by hosting a virtual launch and media conference for our new, groundbreaking Promoting 2SLGBTQI+ Health Equity best practice guideline (BPG) as well as our position statement on respecting sexually and gender diverse communities.
The BPG’s expert panel co-chairs Dr. Elizabeth Saewyc and RN Sheena Howard used evidence and personal stories to explain why the BPG’s 10 recommendations are needed across all health sectors to improve access and quality of care for 2SLGBTQI+ communities. “We have big hopes for this best practice guideline and the ways in which it can impact care and health equity across the globe,” says Howard on behalf of the expert panel. The BPG is available now for free download.
We were thrilled to release our revised position statement, which was developed in collaboration with RNAO’s Rainbow Nursing Interest Group (RNIG – Rainbow). Longtime RNAO member and President of RNIG – Rainbow Dr. Paul-André Gauthier presented the statement and said it “underscores the need to ensure sexually and gender diverse individuals feel safe when accessing care and their experience is person-centred, inclusive and appropriate.”
The AGM wrapped on June 26 with our engaging closing keynote discussion on protecting Ontarians and leading change: the COVID-19 pandemic through the eyes and experiences of nurses. I was honoured to lead a panel of seven esteemed nursing colleagues from different sectors:
- Dr. Leigh Chapman, Director of Clinical Services, Inner City Health Associates (ICHA)
- Wendy Dunn, Nurse Practitioner, Greenwood Court Long-Term Care Home
- Rodolfo D. Lastimosa Jr., past-president, NSO
- Dr. Michael Scarcello, Program Coordinator, Confederation College
- Shirlee Sharkey, Chief Executive Officer, SE Health
- Birgit Umaigba, Clinical Course Director at Centennial College, York & Trent Universities
- Jennifer Vickers-Manzin, Director, Chief Nursing Officer, Public Health Services, City of Hamilton
Each panelist spoke candidly about challenges, frustrations and learnings from the pandemic. Despite differences in vantage points, the recommended solutions were consistent: increased nursing human resources; repealing Bill 124; emphasis on long-term care, home and community care; and improved infection prevention and control measures. Thank you to the panelists for sharing reflections. It’s been an emotional time – improving health care for all requires working together on an integrated approach to care!
It was an absolute privilege to have Elder Perry McLeod-Shabogesic join us again to provide closing remarks following the keynote panel. “I look to the pandemic as a fast…to help ground us, reconnect us, and bring our spirit and consciousness back together again,” Mcleod-Shabogesic shared.
Big thanks go to more than 800 attendees celebrating nursing and the silver linings of an unbelievably challenging year! Visit RNAO’s AGM portal to download our 2020-2021 annual report, rewatch videos, read the winners of the Recognition and Media Awards, and more. Check out our Facebook gallery for photo highlights from all three days of the event.
Lastly, and most importantly, don’t forget to save the date for our 97th AGM happening June 23-26, 2022 – hopefully this time in-person!
RNAO’s continuing media profile: The June report
This month, RNAO spoke out on a number of prominent issues in the media including COVID-19 vaccinations, the province’s reopening framework, the ineffectiveness of signing bonuses for new staff, the urgency to repeal Bill 124, and the welcoming of Ontario’s new Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore.
Ontarians continue to speed up vaccination. RNAO’s position is that vaccination is critical to protect health-care workers, their loved ones and their patients. On June 1, I told CP24 that for healthcare providers to get vaccinated is “extremely important because of the vulnerability of (LTC) residents. The way to do it is education and bringing the vaccines to these homes.” The Ontario government announced on June 10 that it would accelerate the eligibility for mRNA vaccines (Pfizer and Moderna) in areas where the prevalence of the Delta variant is high. However, individuals who received the AstraZeneca vaccine would still need to wait 12 weeks after their first dose. I tweeted that the province needed to shorten the time interval between doses to four weeks, which QP Briefing immediately shared. The pressure continued to mount in mainstream and social media and on June 12, the Ontario government announced they were shortening the time interval for the second dose to eight weeks.
When the province’s reopening plan was announced at the beginning of June, people wondered if the government would reopen schools. On June 2, Premier Ford announced that schools would not reopen for in-person learning this school year. RNAO supported this approach on Twitter and in media interviews. On June 3 RNAO issued a media release saying the risk of reopening schools for the remaining three weeks of the academic year is too high. That same day I told Sudbury.com that while children’s mental health and academic development is important, “the risk of wave four is too high.” Children up to 11 years old are not being vaccinated. Elementary schools remain congregate settings with large groups of unvaccinated people – the perfect setting for a creeping virus to take hold. With an aggressive and dangerous Delta variant, we should prepare now for a safe reopening in September. As I said in my May 29 blog, this entails investments in ventilation, required renovations and full vaccination of all staff and children above 12. We should also invest in support for disadvantaged children, special education and mental health programs.
On June 7, it was announced that the province would enter step one of the reopening plan on the upcoming Friday (June 11). Step one of the plan permitted outdoor dining, outdoor fitness classes and religious services. On June 7 in the Thunder Bay Chronicle Journal, I said we would have preferred lower daily infections before reopening but were hopeful that the province would proceed cautiously. The second half of June saw higher numbers of vaccinated people and lower daily case counts, which led to the Ontario government announcing the move to step two on June 30, two days ahead of its original plan of July 2. In this second stage, hair salons and personal care services will be allowed to reopen and capacity limits for essential retail increase from 25 per cent to 50 per cent while non-essential retail will increase from 15 per cent to 25 per cent. Gathering limits also increase: up to 25 people allowed outdoors and five people indoors. On June 24, I told QP Briefing that nurses endorse this step but urge the government to monitor potential risks, citing the re-emergence of pandemic waves in Israel and UK despite high vaccination rates. “We can’t afford more people getting sick and dying.” I also mentioned that Ontario should be mindful of the impact of COVID long-haulers on the health system.
Hospitals and other health sectors are experiencing nursing understaffing, which has prompted some hospitals to offer signing bonuses for new employees. In a June 16 Global News article, I said that these bonuses are “a short-term band-aid for a long-term problem.” The province needs a different approach to solve RN understaffing because bonuses are simply disruptive. They move nurses around instead of addressing the root causes. Bonuses are good, but not enough to fix the problems that nurses are facing right now, said RNAO member Eram Chhogala, an emergency trauma RN at the Scarborough Health Network and Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). “I think that offering an incentive is a nice idea, but it doesn’t fully change the way that we’re going to be experiencing the pandemic,” she said. “It covers costs, which is good, but it doesn’t heal anything else. It doesn’t heal the emotional burden. It doesn’t heal the emotional trauma that a lot of front liners have had to experience.”
The province is supporting our call for increased seats nursing programs, but we also need to implement better strategies to retain the nurses we have. In a June 11 Ottawa Citizen article, I explained that nurses are leaving Ontario to work in the US. We must highlight opportunities for RNs in Ontario. “We need to very quickly send a message that things will get better so we don’t lose them to somewhere else.” RNAO recommended a better way in our Work and Wellbeing Survey report released in March, aimed at effective retention and recruitment of RNs and NPs in our province. Recommendations include support for early and mid-career RNs as well as improved staffing levels.
On June 26, Dr. Kieran Moore officially took over as Ontario’s new chief medical officer of health. I have praised Dr. Moore’s work as the medical officer of health for Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington Public Health. I told InsideHalton.com on June 21 that “Dr. Moore has been a stellar performer during the entire pandemic and will no doubt do a terrific job in this new post.” I also told QP Briefing (June 24) that RNAO is thrilled Dr. Moore was chosen for this role. RNAO will continue providing our insight into public health guidelines.
We remain committed to speaking out for nurses and speaking out for the health of all Ontarians through the media. In June, our outreach resulted in 138 media hits. To read any of the media stories we were included in, visit our COVID-19 press room located in our COVID-19 portal.
POLICY UPDATES FOR ALL TO ACT ON & MUST JOIN EVENTS – OPEN TO ALL
RNAO Action Alerts
Take action on global vaccine access: Sign an Action Alert calling on Prime Minister Trudeau to ensure global vaccine access. Let’s also make sure we urge Prime Minister Trudeau to match President Biden’s commitments to Covax.
Take action on Bill 124 and sign the Action Alert. Add your voice to 5,000 others calling on Premier Ford to exempt health-care workers from Bill 124. We also join in the call to #RepealBill124. This is more important than ever as we see a fast deterioration of nursing human resources with colleagues leaving the profession or moving to the United States. See the latest coverage from RN voices Deb Lefebvre here and Birgit Umaigba here. RT all and give your ideas here!
Call on elected leaders to step up and end the opioid crisis: Sign an Action Alert calling on politicians at all orders of government to work together to save lives and bring this crisis to an end.
Enshrine a nursing home basic care guarantee in legislation, premier, set the path forward! Sign an Action Alert! Call on the premier to enshrine in legislation RNAO’s Nursing Home Basic Care Guarantee.
Webinar: COVID-19 Webinar Series
July 12, 2021, 2:00pm - 4:00pm
When: Every second Monday of the month
RNAO's CEO Doris Grinspun will be hosting COVID-19 webinars for health providers.
- updates on COVID-19 and the health system: latest news and pressing issues
- guest speakers (as applicable)
- questions and answers
- calls to action
Health providers from Ontario, Canada, and anywhere in the world are welcome to join at no cost.
We are here with you in solidarity. Together, we will continue to tackle COVID-19 with the best tools at hand, including accurate information, calmness, determination and swift actions!
July 12, 2021, 2 - 4 p.m. ET
Details coming soon. REGISTER NOW
August 9, 2021, 2 - 4 p.m. ET
Details coming soon.
Watch the 14 June past webinar:
Topic: Update on COVID-19 – Directions from the province and policy implications
We are now in the 16th month of COVID-19. Join us for an update on current issues related to this stage in the pandemic. RNAO CEO, Dr. Doris Grinspun outlines recent directions from the province, discusses the policy implications from RNAO’s perspective and has a conversation with participants.
Issues discussed include:
- Provincial decision not to reopen schools
- Advancing the reopening of the province to June 11
- Vaccination rollout
- Bill 124
- What to expect post-pandemic in general, and specific to nursing
Presenter: Dr. Doris Grinspun, RNAO CEO
Watch and read about earlier webinars here.
Continuing the Conversation: An Open Forum for Nurses
Aug 18, 2021, 2:30pm - 4:00pm
RNAO is aware nurses across Ontario – especially those working on the frontlines of COVID-19 – are experiencing tremendous levels of physical and emotional stress and burnout. We know this can affect your mental health and wellbeing at this challenging time and that you may have less time to devote to your own self care.
During these forums, RNAO facilitates open discussions and holds breakout sessions for participants to discuss themes identified in the previous forums, such as dealing with multiple losses, taking care of yourself, burnout and more.
All RNs, NPs, RPNs and nursing students – in all roles and sectors – are invited to participate. You may wish to share how things are going for you or you can simply join and listen in.
Visit our COVID-19 Portal for additional resources and information on psychosocial support.
Details and registration link coming soon.
Information about prior webinars can be found 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 more detailed Ontario epidemiological summary from Public Health Ontario, you can always go here.
Here is a segment from the last Situation Report #463 for July 2:
Case count as of July 2, 2021 / Nombre de cas le 02 juillet 2021
Area / Région
Case count / Nombre de cas
Change from yesterday / Changement par rapport à hier
Deaths / Décès
Change from yesterday / Changement par rapport à hier
Staying in touch
Keeping in touch remains important as we face the pandemic and other challenges in Ontario, in Canada and elsewhere. Feeling that we are part of a community and that we have each other’s backs helps us get through these challenges, becoming better people in the process. We are eager to hear 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 firstname.lastname@example.org and copy my executive assistant, Peta-Gay (PG) Batten at email@example.com. RNAO’s Board of Directors and our entire staff want you to know: WE ARE HERE FOR YOU!
Thank you for being there for your community – everywhere and in all roles! Together, in solidarity, we are strong and resilient. In Canada we see hope at the end of this long pandemic tunnel. Vaccines arrive in large quantities and the rollout is speeding even more. We must not forget, however, about our privilege. Canada has purchased more vaccines than what it needs, while 9 out 10 countries have almost nothing. Like in other challenges we face, such as racism, Islamophobia, and other forms of discrimination, we are not safe until everyone is safe. Vaccines for all – literally for all, across the world – must guide policy in the upcoming 12 months. Let’s learn from the 16-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 political leaders bring about #Vaccines4All!
Doris Grinspun, RN,MSN, PhD, LLD(hon), Dr(hc), FAAN, FCAN, O.ONT
Chief Executive Officer, RNAO
RECENT BLOG ITEMS:
26 June - Global herd immunity out of reach because of inequitable vaccine distribution – go here.
26 June - Canada is virtue signalling while waffling on global access to COVID-19 vaccines – go here.
20 June - Building your Twitter presence: Here are tips from RNAO – go here.
20 June - Let’s flatten the infodemic curve – go here.
12 June - RNAO statement on the terrorist attack in London, Ontario – go here.
12 June - Reducing the time interval for second dose after first AstraZeneca dose – go here.
12 June - AstraZeneca second dose: Should I get the same vaccine or Mrna? – go here.
5 June - RNAO’s continuing media profile: The May report – go here.
5 June - RNAO supports Premier Ford's announcement on schools as risk is too high – go here.
29 May - Vaccination passport apps could help society reopen – go here.
29 May - Email updates highlight best new evidence about COVID-19 – go here.
23 May – NPs speak about LTC during the COVID-19 Pandemic – go here.
23 May – Three surveys on the impact of COVID-19 on Canadian nurses – go here.
23 May – Exemption of nurses and other health-care workers from Bill 124 – go here.
23 May – RNAO’s statement on the government’s phased-in re-opening plan – go here.
23 May – Remembering Charlotte Noesgaard (1948-2021) – go here.
15 May - Nursing Now Ontario Awards Ceremony – go here.
15 May - Vaccine passports – reason for hope or cause for concern? – go here.
15 May - Government responds to RNAO’s call for increased enrollment in nursing education – go here.
15 May - Second dose vaccination for high-risk healthcare workers in response to RNAO’s call – go here.
8 May - Nurses must be fully vaccinated immediately, RNAO demands – go here.
8 May - A bill to support individuals with assistive devices for mental health – go here.
8 May - Action alert: Ensure global vaccine access, prime minister! – go here.
1 May - RNAO statement on the passing of RN Lorraine Gouveia – go here.
1 May - RNAO’s continuing media profile: The April report – go here.
1 May – RNAO response to Long-Term Care COVID-19 Commission report – go here.
We have posted earlier ones in my blog here. I invite you to look.