RNAO sends letter to Ontario political parties on anti-Black racism

RNAO sent on March 25 the following letter to the leaders of the Ontario political parties: Premier Doug Ford; Leader of the Official Opposition and Ontario NDP leader Andrew Horwath; Ontario Liberal Party leader Steven Del Duca; and Green Party leader Mike Schreiner.

Dear leader,

In response to the widespread systemic racism that exists within the nursing profession – and inspired by the activism and the courage of the Black Lives Matter movement – RNAO formed a Black Nurses Task Force (BNTF) in June 2020. It was formed to move beyond solidarity and interrupt complicity to promote transformational change. The mandate of the BNTF is to reduce anti-Black racism and discrimination within the nursing profession – its organizations, regulatory body, associations and the broader health system – targeted towards and experienced by Black nurses.

The BNTF propelled change from the day it began its work. The members, activism and activities of the BNTF have become a social force for change within and outside our profession. From the open recruitment process calling for expressions of interest, to the co-chairs’ thoughtful selection of 15 panelists with lived experience of anti-Black racism in various domains of practice, the task force is a tapestry of Black nursing excellence.

On Feb. 8, 2022, the task force released a ground-breaking report Acknowledging, Addressing and Tackling Anti-Black Racism and Discrimination Within the Nursing Profession. The report highlights the work of the BNTF across four pillars – education and awareness building, research, advocacy, partnership with allies and stakeholders. It outlines 19 specific recommendations and accompanying actions to dismantle anti-Black racism in nursing workplaces and academic settings. The report’s recommendations include:

  • the need for urgent advocacy to address racism against Black nurses
  • education and awareness building at individual, organizational and policy levels
  • greater mentorship and support for Black nurses
  • partnership with allies and stakeholders leading anti-Black racism initiatives
  • equitable and fair human resources processes

The members of the task force – all Black nursing colleagues – have contributed to the content and the need for change. Certainly, it is not a new cause for them. They have lived in their skin and fought discrimination for all of their lives, and now they are creating a social movement that includes everyone. They are opening doors for people to become allies. The purpose is to challenge the injustices of the past, building for them – and by extension – a fair and better future for everyone.

RNAO is urging you to become an ally of Black nurses by incorporating the report’s recommendations into the Green party’s election platform. Ontarians look to you for leadership and guidance on such an important social and health-care issue, and at no time is the public more attentive to you than during an election campaign. RNAO’s executive and the co-chairs of our BNTF are eager to meet with you to discuss the BNTF report and explain our research and recommendations.

Racism is entrenched in the history of nursing and our health-care system, and continues to have a devastating impact on the lived experiences of both racialized nurses and patients. We look to you to be an ally to bring change.

With warmest regards,

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

Chief Executive Officer