September 11 2021 COVID-19 report
Dear Colleagues: Welcome to our Saturday, September 11 report during this nineteenth 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 and action alerts, as well as RNAO’s upcoming webinars.
RNAO condems the acts of harassment against patients and health-care workers by protesters close to hospitals all across Ontario. While we respect the right to protest, it is unacceptable to disrupt health-care facilities and the targets cannot be patients, families and colleagues. This must stop! RNAO has been calling for over a week for #SafeZones to be immediately implemented around health facilities. We also invite you to sign a petition initiated by RNAO member Vikki Leung and to retweet this.
In this update we focus on the federal elections. We share: (1) a call for nurses, families and friends to vote in the federal election; (2) an article evaluating the climate action plans of the federal parties; and (3) another article evaluating where they stand on a key health issue – gun control.
Vote in the federal election! Nurses vote for a healthy recovery for all Canadians
Election Day is one week away, and advanced polls are already open.
Canadians go to the polls on Monday, Sept. 20.
Voting is a privilege and RNAO has consistently highlighted the importance of exercising one’s right to vote.
During each federal election, we also champion the health and health-care issues nurses believe must be front-and-centre when choosing which candidate or party to vote for.
RNAO released its policy platform on Aug. 20 with recommendations on access to health care, social determinants of health, environmental determinants of health and fiscal capacity. And we issued an Action Alert calling for a healthy recovery for all.
We also sent a questionnaire to each of the major parties for their input on RNAO’s 11 recommendations.
So far, we have received responses from the New Democratic Party, the Liberal Party of Canada and the Conservative Party of Canada (listed here in the order they arrived). You can read the responses under each of the four areas of our platform.
We invite you to go through each topic area so you can inform yourself.
Elections matter, especially when it comes to the health of Canadians. But health isn’t just about health-care. Our economic, social and environmental circumstances affect our health.
These are important issues at stake in the election. Climate change must be addressed with urgency. It is vital to address the longstanding inequities laid bare by the COVID-19 pandemic. Everybody has a right to housing, clean water and safe and dignified health care. The calls to action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission must be implemented.
You don’t need to wait until Sept. 20 to vote – you can take advantage of the advance polls that are open this weekend.
Advance polls are open from Sept. 10 – Sept. 13 from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Check your voter information card for details or go to elections.ca
In order to vote you must be a Canadian citizen, be at least 18 years of age and can prove your identity and address.
Sign RNAO’s Action Alert directed to the federal parties.
Federal election: Which party has the best climate plan? Here’s where they stand
Climate change is the most important threat to human health on a planetary scale. Canadian governments – federal and provincial – have let us down with their inadequate commitment for climate action. As health professionals, we raise our voices and demand from politicians to act NOW!
Where do the leading federal parties stand on this crucial matter? The following is a September 9 article by Cameron Roberts, a researcher in sustainable transportation at Carleton University, who evaluates the climate action plans of the four main federal parties. This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.
The coronavirus crisis gives us a golden opportunity to make our society more sustainable, as politicians and organizations around the world have already noted. Just like how the oil crises of the 1970s led many countries to revolutionize their energy systems, the pandemic has given us a chance to rethink many aspects of our society — including our dependence on fossil fuels.
But the question of how to do this is tricky. The findings of socio-technical transitions researchers, who study large-scale technological change, can help us evaluate whether the climate platforms being put forward in this election will achieve what they say they will.
Liberals: Emphasizing innovation
Up until now, the Liberals have relied heavily on carbon pricing — an approach that has received considerable criticism. Carbon taxes reduce the problem to individual choices, ignoring the role played by infrastructure, regulations and industry structure.
Fortunately, the current Liberal plan expands on the carbon tax. The Liberals have a clear plan not just to develop new low-carbon technologies, but to embed these in a wider technological system, through support for electric vehicle charging and smart grids, for example.
The Liberal plan does not, however, say much about social or economic change to complement their proposed technological change. For example, the Liberals have an electric vehicle plan, but say very little about the arguably more important task of reducing car dependence altogether.
And their plan to reduce emissions from the oil and gas sector ignores the fact that the biggest problem with the fossil fuel industry is the fossil fuels themselves.
The Liberal plan, despite its impressive detail, is insufficient for broad systemic change. It does not address topics like demand, consumption, urban planning or the structure of daily life.
Conservatives: No at-large plan
The Conservative plan focuses on empowering private citizens and industries to make low-carbon choices for themselves. The Conservatives would, for example, replace the carbon tax with a low-carbon savings account, which people would pay into every time they buy fossil fuels. This money could then be spent on low-carbon purchases, such as electric vehicles or more efficient boilers. For industry, the Conservatives propose tax breaks for the first five industrial facilities to implement a new low-carbon technology.
The problem with this approach is that it individualizes the problem and does nothing to address bigger issues of infrastructure, logistics chains, standards and other systemic factors that lock in dependence on fossil fuels.
True, the Conservatives do have some plans to develop infrastructure — such as for electric vehicles. But even here, the justification for focusing on electric vehicles on the grounds that “most families cannot meet the challenges of work and parenting without one or more cars” indicates an unwillingness to tackle the reasons why our cities are so car-dependent.
A new technology must first fit into existing systems before it can stretch it into something else. Cars, for example, had to be able to drive on roads built mainly for bicycles and horses before anyone would think about building a highway.
The Conservative platform is all fit and no stretch: They want to make low-carbon technology more accessible on an individual basis, but they have no plan for a wider transformation.
New Democrats: Two birds, one stone
The NDP climate platform proposes to use climate policy to achieve economic and social change. The NDP plan for worker retraining is by far the most detailed and will soften the blow for workers who are displaced from fossil fuel-intensive industries. They also propose to support community-owned renewable energy projects, which can help build local support for renewable energy projects, and to link low-carbon housing with their affordable housing agenda.
The NDP also has a serious plan for tackling energy demand. Their low-carbon transportation plan prioritizes public transit, walking and cycling alongside an electric vehicle strategy. Their plan to improve internet provision to rural areas to enable more working from home has a similar logic to it, although unfortunately evidence suggests that working from home might actually increase vehicle distance travelled.
The NDP clearly understands that linking social and economic benefits to environmental ones is an important way of ensuring that good climate policy remains politically viable.
Bloc Québécois: Regional side benefits
The Bloc platform emphasizes side benefits of green transitions for the province of Québec: a hydroelectricity powerhouse and a global mining centre. Existing Québec industries can produce low-carbon aluminum, batteries and electric vehicles. Beyond supporting these industries, the Bloc also proposes a regional Québec alternative to Via Rail Canada.
In addition to prioritizing side benefits, the Bloc are wise to enlist support from powerful incumbent industries. As with the Conservatives, however, the Bloc Québécois’ plan emphasizes support for established players and falls short on embracing large-scale change.
The Green Party: Mandate, but no details
The Greens have an aggressive plan, which includes phasing out the fossil fuel industry, promoting innovation and addressing consumption.
The Green platform ticks a lot of important boxes: They propose retraining for workers, a national renewable-powered grid, and a coherent national transportation network including high-speed rail, light rail and electric buses. Their practical plans for how to achieve this range from international agreements to patent law.
This is a good plan, although in some places it lacks both detail and systemic scope for how change will actually happen in practice. The promise to simply “mandate and support” a faster transition to renewable energy in transportation, for example, gives no understanding of what this support would actually look like.
Managing the transition
The parties’ climate plans differ mainly on the question of which specific part of the transition they account for. Different parties place different levels of emphasis on innovation, consumption, political support and industrial support.
Unfortunately, an effective climate plan that can actually enact a large-scale transition away from fossil fuels requires working hard in all of these areas at once. Transitions are multifaceted and involve codependent changes in technology, infrastructure, regulations, consumption habits and many other areas. A good climate plan should combine into something greater than the sum of its parts.
Where the parties stand on gun control in the 2021 federal election
Multiple issues impacting on health are being discussed in the federal campaign trail, and one of the most prominent has been gun control. RNAO has been concerned for many years about gun violence. The following article by R. Blake Brown, a professor of history at Saint Mary’s University, analyzes the commitments of the main federal parties on gun control. This Sept. 2 article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.
Gun control has been a heated political issue in Canada since the late 1970s, and the major federal parties all mention firearm policy in their 2021 election platforms.
The NDP offer nothing substantial.
The Liberals commit to strengthening efforts to ban many assault-style rifles, while handing some authority to provinces to regulate handguns.
The Conservative Party promises to crack down on gang crime, while weakening some firearm policies criticized by the gun lobby. And its leader, Erin O'Toole, broke from the party platform mid-election campaign, saying he’d temporarily maintain a Liberal ban on “assault-style” firearms if he forms a government, while still promising to overhaul how firearms are classified in Canada.
Liberal gun control policy since 2015
Canadian laws pertaining to firearms are complicated, having developed over decades. Many of the parties’ 2021 gun policy platforms, however, respond to the policies introduced or proposed by Justin Trudeau since he was elected prime minister in 2015.
In 2019, his government passed Bill C-71, which made modest regulatory changes, such as enhanced background checks and requiring vendors to keep records of all firearm transactions. Despite the modesty of Bill C-71, the gun lobby fiercely opposed it.
Even more controversial was the Liberal decision in May 2020 to prohibit many models of assault-style rifles (as well as a smattering of other kinds of guns). This banned at least 150,000 weapons already owned by Canadians, though the government allowed gun owners to retain these firearms pending further legislation.
The 2020 prohibition sparked the fury of the gun lobby, and resulted in several ongoing lawsuits.
In February 2021, the Liberals introduced another gun control bill, Bill C-21, that proposed allowing municipalities to regulate handguns, creating a new “red flag” regime to remove firearms from people who posed a danger to themselves or others, prohibiting many replica firearms and creating an optional buy-back system for weapons prohibited in May 2020.
Heavily criticized as too weak by many gun control advocates, Bill C-21 did not become law prior to the election.
NDP, Liberal Party gun platforms
The New Democratic Party barely mentions gun control in its 2021 platform. The NDP says it will support anti-gang initiatives and discourage violent extremism.
The NDP also notes that it will “work to keep assault weapons and illegal handguns off our streets, and to tackle gun smuggling and organized crime.” This vague statement provides little sense of what concrete steps the NDP would take.
The Liberal Party pledges to defend the gun control policies put in place since 2015. Importantly, the Liberals will require owners of assault-style rifles to sell their guns to the government for fair compensation or to have them “rendered fully and permanently inoperable at government expense.”
This promise responds to criticism that Bill C-21 had proposed only a voluntary buy-back of these guns. The Liberals also propose tightening the rules limiting the capacity of rifle magazines to five rounds.
The Liberals have resurrected some ideas first proposed in Bill C-21 in their 2021 platform. Most notably, they promise funding to support provinces or territories that implemented handgun bans. Gun control advocates had criticized this proposal, saying it would create a patchwork regulatory system of gun laws, and would represent an abrogation of the federal government’s responsibility to control firearms.
Conservative Party gun platform
The Conservative Party accuses the Liberals of “harassing hunters and sport shooters,” and says that Ottawa must focus on gang violence.
The Conservatives, for example, promise to hire RCMP officers to combat gangs and gun smuggling.
The party also promises to target “straw purchasing” — the legal purchase of guns that are then transferred to unlicensed people. And the party promises to increase punishments for some crimes involving firearms.
The Conservatives also include proposals that respond to gun lobby complaints. O’Toole courted the gun community in his party leadership bid, and the party promises to review existing firearm laws with the participation of “law enforcement, firearms owners, manufacturers and members of the public.”
This suggests that gun lobbyists and manufacturers would be consulted in shaping future firearms policy. The party pledges to repeal Bill C-71 but O'Toole departed from its stance on reversing the ban on assault-style rifles, including firearms like the controversial AR-15 and the gun used by the perpetrator of the 1989 Montréal Massacre, the Mini-14.
Of note, the Conservatives will introduce a “simplified classification system” for firearms. This would make semi-automatic rifles much easier to acquire and use.
The restrictions on many firearm models introduced by the Progressive Conservative government of Brian Mulroney and the Liberal government of Jean Chrétien would be repealed.
‘Big and welcomed’
The vice president of the Canadian Coalition for Firearm Rights declared that she was “not entirely sure if people realize how hugely positive this would be for our community — it’s big, and welcomed.”
In sum, the NDP largely avoids the gun control issue.
The Liberals double down on measures to limit ownership of assault-style rifles, while offering to offload some responsibility for regulating handguns to the provinces.
Despite O'Toole’s recent reversal, the Conservative Party’s platform, meanwhile, calls for substantially altering gun laws and making many assault-style rifles as available as they were before the 1989 Montréal Massacre.
POLICY UPDATES FOR ALL TO ACT ON & MUST JOIN EVENTS – OPEN TO ALL
RNAO Action Alerts
Sign the Action Alert calling on premier Ford to Implement the 3 Mandatory Asks of Nurses: 1) #MandatoryVaccination for health-care workers (unless medical exemption); 2) #MandatoryVaccination for teachers and educational staff (unless medical exemption); and 3) #MandatoryVaccinePassports for everyone (unless medical exemption). In addition, we are asking for indoor masking for children two years old and up.
Take action on Bill 124 and sign the Action Alert. Add your voice to the 5,302 others calling on Premier Ford to exempt health-care workers from Bill 124. We join the call to #RepealBill124. This is urgent given the deterioration of nursing human resources as colleagues leave the profession or move to the United States. President Biden is eager to welcome our awesome RNs.
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.
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
Monday, September 13, 2021, 2:00pm - 4:00pm
Topic: COVID-19 amidst back to school and a federal election
School is back in session, vaccine mandates and passports are being rolled out, and the federal election is upon us. What does this mean for Ontario nurses, families, teachers, community members and those deciding how to vote on Sept. 20?
Join us on Monday, Sept 13 at 2 p.m. for a discussion with RNAO CEO Dr. Doris Grinspun who will share updates, latest news and pressing issues related to COVID-19. Learn how to use RNAO’s non partisan federal election policy platform to inform your election decisions, and hear about current calls to action that support a Just Recovery for All.
Watch and read about earlier webinars here.
Let’s Talk About Anti-Black Racism and Discrimination in Nursing
Sep 20, 2021, 2:30pm - 4:00pm
This is a webinar series designed for members of the public interested in receiving updates on RNAO’s Black Nurses Task Force and to engage them in meaningful conversations that will inform the work of the Task Force. The Black Nurses Task Force has a mandate to tackle anti-Black racism and discrimination within the nursing profession.
Sept. 20, 2021, 2:30-4:00 pm
Topic: The Lived Experiences of Black Nurses Using Mental Health Services in Ontario
Dania Versailles, RN, MScN, CPMHN (C), Director of Clinical Services of Outreach, Canadian Mental Health Association – Ottawa
Registration link coming.
Watch and read about earlier webinars here.
Indigenous Mental Wellness Webinar
Sep 22, 2021, 7:00pm - 9:00pm
This webinar is in partnership with the RNAO, Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN), Chiefs of Ontario (COO), the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) Shkaabe Makwa, the Canadian Indigenous Nurses Association (CINA) and Ontario First Nation Young Peoples Council (OFNYPC).
The First Nations Mental Wellness Framework (FNMWC) will provide a foundation for this presentation as it provides guidance for addressing the unique needs of First Nations from within the social determinants of health. Understanding the link between trauma and unique needs of First Nations will enable more effective policies and culturally safe program support. Building from the inherent strengths of individuals provides a starting place to come together on a journey of wellness.
This webinar will offer two discussions: one on problematic substance use and a second on child and youth mental wellness. Each presentation will be 40 minutes and offer the participants:
- a description of the link to the FNMWC as a way of addressing problem statements and assumptions
- key factors influencing culturally safe services
- recommendations for achieving Indigenous wellness: hope, belonging, meaning and purpose
Carol Hopkins, O.C., MSW LL.D(hons), Chief Executive Officer, Thunderbird Partnership Foundation
Brenda M Restoule, Ph.D., C.Psych, Chief Executive Officer, First Peoples Wellness Circle
Check here for full bios.
Target audience: RNs, NPs, RPNs and nursing students across care settings, primary care providers, public health and health promotion professionals, allied health-care providers, and policy makers.
Note: Webinar will focus on nurses and health-care providers supporting First Nations communities and organizations, however all are welcome to attend.
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 #511 for September 10:
Case count as of September 10, 2021 / Nombre de cas le 10 septembre 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
No updates today
Staying in touch
Keeping in touch remains important as we face the pandemic and other challenges in Ontario, in Canada and elsewhere – in particular, in Africa and Latin America – two of the continents most affected by COVID-19 and its variants – delta and lambda. 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. Please keep encouraging your colleagues, their loved ones and your communities to be fully vaccinated. 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 17-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:
4 Sept - RNAO condemns protests outside health organizations – go here.
4 Sept - RNAO’s continuing media profile: The August 2021 report – go here.
4 Sept - RNAO welcomes important steps to implement vaccine certificates – go here.
28 Aug - Mandatory vaccination in process; vaccine certificates coming to Ontario – go here.
28 Aug – MSF on boosting global vaccine supply – go here.
21 Aug - Nurses call on voters to vote for a healthy recovery for all – go here.
21 Aug – RNAO calls for a stronger vaccine mandate and action on vaccine certificates – go here.
21 Aug - WHO condemns rush by wealthy nations to give Covid vaccine booster – go here.
21 Aug - Calling on Canada to back WHO Moratorium on Booster Shots and Donate Vaccines – go here.
15 Aug - Why is Delta such a worry? – go here.
15 Aug - This is what we know about the Delta variant and kids – go here.
15 Aug - RNAO welcomes mandated vaccination for health care workers – go here.
8 Aug - COVID-19 vaccine boosters: is a third dose really needed? – go here.
8 Aug - RNAO calls to implement vaccine passports to help reopen Canada – go here.
8 Aug – School reopening plan: additional measures needed to stave off worst effects of fourth wave – go here.
1 Aug - RNAO’s continuing media profile: The July 2021 report – go here.
1 Aug - Preparing for the fourth wave – go here.
25 July - Action Alert: Mandate COVID-19 vaccination for all health-care workers, premier! – go here.
25 July - Are we preparing for a safe school reopening? – RNAO asks once again – go here.
17 July - Mandatory vaccination for health-care workers – Exploring issues, challenges and supports – go here.
17 July - #FullyVaccinated campaign and mandatory vaccination for health-care workers – go here.
10 July - A Detailed Study of Patients with Long-Haul COVID – go here.
10 July - Prolonged brain dysfunction in COVID-19 survivors – go here.
3 July - RNAO’s continuing media profile: The June report – go here.
3 July - RNAO celebrates virtual 96th Annual General Meeting – go here.
We have posted earlier ones in my blog here. I invite you to look.