September 25 2020 COVID-19 report
Dear Colleagues: Welcome to our Friday, September 25 report – now in the eighth month of COVID-19 in Ontario. Visit the COVID-19 Portal for the many resources RNAO offers on COVID-19. Find earlier update reports here, including thematic pieces in Doris’ COVID-19 Blog. RNAO media hits and releases on the pandemic can be found 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.
Nurses say throne speech advances A Just Recovery for All
Wednesday’s federal Throne Speech was an important policy moment in Canada. Please see below RNAO’s press release issued after the Speech. RNAO was successful in achieving two major asks in our Vision for A Just Recovery for All: 1) the federal government will work with the provinces and territories to set National Standards for Long-Term Care (LTC) so that seniors get the best support possible, with funding attached to those standards, and 2) strengthening the National Housing Strategy announced in 2017 by increasing investments to rapid housing in the short term, and partnering with not-for-profits and co-ops in the mid- to long-term. The commitment is to end chronic homelessness.
Why is RNAO insisting that the federal government set National Standards for LTC homes in Canada and tie federal funding to upholding jurisdictions to deliver those standards? In short, we’ve lost trust that the Ontario government will act in any substantive way in the absence of external pressure. In Ontario alone, more than 35 reports on LTC have been issued in 21 years, and although during this period we’ve had a number of different governments, not much has been done to improve the lives of LTC residents, their families and the hard-working staff that serve them.
Following the tragedy in nursing homes during the first wave of the pandemic, Premier Ford made heartfelt commitments to fix a “broken system.” For the first time in many years, we were hopeful with a premier who appeared genuine and determined to bring substantial positive change. Premier Ford reiterated these commitments many times, including when the report of the armed forces became public.
While we were relieved when the government moved to reunite residents with their loved ones, following RNAO’s report and the pressuring of others, many families tell us that they continue to face barriers normalizing the frequency and length of their visits.
In the area of health human resources, despite the insistence of RNAO that government provide a directive and funding for nursing homes to hire additional staff in the summer, so that they would be ready for the second wave in the fall, not much has happen. To our tremendous disappointment and anguish we have had no answers to our call to action issued on May 28 immediately following the Canadian Armed Forces report. Nor have we heard reactions to our Nursing Home Basic Care Guarantee, formally submitted on June 10th to Minister Fullerton. My personal plea to our Premier, Ministers and the Collaborative Table have been “noted.” As a result, our media presence and pressure remains constant.
When on July 30, Minister Fullerton released the LTC Staffing Study, but took no action, we at RNAO knew the second wave will bring more tragedy. This is why in August, facing the reality that our provincial government does not have serious intention to invest in LTC staffing ahead of the second wave, we decided to shift gears and ask the federal government to intervene. We issued a letter to Prime Minister Trudeau urging him to set National Standards for LTC homes, and proposed our Basic Care Guarantee.
Colleagues, you have read and heard RNAO saying on numerous occasions that Ontario is not ready for the next wave of the pandemic; we are not alone on this. In particular, you have heard us speak about the gravity of the situation in Ontario’s LTC homes. Thousands of you signed action alerts asking the Premier and Minister Fullerton to mandate and fund nursing homes to hire NPs, RNs, RPNs and PSWs during the summer. The disregard for our and others’ advice pains us all, as we see the impending human tragedy that will ensue with the confluence of flu and COVID-19 – the so-called “twindemic.” These are issues we have shared in previous blogs.
Now that the federal government has committed to National Standards for LTC homes, RNAO will again ask you to lend your voice in support. This is one-in-a-generation chance to make a difference for Canada’s seniors. Be prepared to witness lots of bickering and rhetoric about “health being a jurisdictional matter.” You will hear premiers, including our own, saying “give us the funding without strings attached.” At RNAO, we agree that the federal government must increase its health transfer payments, and we know that most healthcare delivery is a jurisdictional responsibility. However, nurses and other health professionals also know that when it comes to LTC, unless we establish a Basic Care Guarantee, not much will change for LTC residents, their families and staff.
Canada has had many successful experiences with federal, provincial and territorial partnerships to advance the health and health-care system of Canadians. For example, in September 2000, Canada's First Ministers agreed that improvements to primary health care (PHC) were crucial to the modernization of the health care system. As part of their 2000 Health Accord – a Primary Health Care Transition Fund – was signed for the period of 2000 to 2006. The federal government, provinces and territories agreed to work together, and in concert with health professionals to improve team-based PHC and its linkages with other parts of the health care system. This was an initiative where federal, provincial and territorial governments participated with a huge degree of success. The results are clear in Ontario where we formed family health teams, family health networks, expanded community health centres and aboriginal health centres, as well as launched 26 NP-led clinics. The entire country made substantive progress in moving from primarily solo practices to team-based care.
This is the type of collaborative success that the country needs now. The tragedy and trauma that residents in nursing homes have experienced; the suffering of the families; and the post-traumatic stress and ill-health of staff can no longer be tolerated. We must now stand up in unison and say: No more, because this is, indeed, our last chance.
This has been, and continues to be, a horrific and preventable tragedy caused by 20 years of misguided policies and funding neglect – and recent inaction. If governments in Canada, including our own government in Ontario, are allowed to keep a blind eye now, no future government will feel compelled to take action. This is why RNAO is insisting on the need to establish National Standards of Care in LTC and tying federal funding to meeting those standards. RNAO will be – as always – working with the Ontario government and others to ensure we deliver on those standards. Together, we could have done much better for residents in nursing homes. Now, we owe them a brighter future.
Here is the press release issued on Wednesday:
During an unprecedented fight against an insidious virus, nurses say they are being heard by the federal government. Wednesday’s Speech from the Throne addresses policy imperatives RNAO outlined in a letter and call to action sent to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau demanding that vulnerable people not be left behind as a result of COVID-19.
A Just Recovery for All, a global movement endorsed by RNAO, shines a light on the actions needed to build a better and more inclusive society, and to seal the cracks of inequity exposed during the pandemic.
More than 2,000 people, including nurses, other health professionals and members of the public, gave voice to RNAO’s call for the federal government to implement measures focused on two priority groups hit hardest by the virus: the elderly, especially those living in long-term care (LTC) homes, and people who experience homelessness.
RNAO applauds the government’s announcement to create national standards for LTC and urges Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to provide funding – with strings attached – to improve staffing. This is vital given the long-standing systemic failures in this sector and will honour the more than 5,300 men and women who have succumbed to COVID-19 in Canada. Indeed, more than 80 per cent of those who died from COVID-19 across the country were residents in LTC, which is double the LTC death share of countries in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. Nurses urge the prime minister to move swiftly with both national standards and the related funding to avert a second major tragedy, which is already in the making.
Such national standards should be modelled on RNAO’s Nursing Home Basic Care Guarantee, which has been on the table in Ontario for several months. The guarantee ensures that:
- Each LTC home provides a minimum of four (4) worked hours of direct nursing and personal care for each resident per 24 hours, according to the following staff mix formula:
- a minimum of 48 minutes of worked hours of RN direct care
- a minimum of 60 minutes of RPN/LPN direct care
- a minimum of 132 minutes of PSW direct care
- Each LTC home employs a full-time equivalent (FTE) nurse practitioner (NP) per 120 residents, as attending NP. In regions where there is a shortage of NPs, employ a clinical nurse specialist (CNS).
- Each LTC home employs an FTE nursing staff member (preferably an RN) to support the functions of infection prevention and control, quality improvement, staff education, onboarding and orientation.
- Each LTC home implements the following mandated human resources standards:
- mandate that LTC staff (RN, RPN/LPN, PSW) only work in one LTC home
- ensure nursing and personal care salaries in LTC are commensurate with those paid to health workers in other sectors, such as hospitals
- ensure full‐time employment with benefits is offered to staff who want full‐time work, enabling continuity of care for residents, and improved staff retention
- Each LTC home has a complement of interprofessional staff, including: physiotherapy, rehabilitation therapy, speech therapy, social work, dietary and dental care.
RNAO’s CEO Dr. Doris Grinspun says a Nursing Home Basic Care Guarantee will honour the over 1,800 lives lost in Ontario’s LTC homes due to the pandemic. Grinspun says the association also supports “the government’s intention to amend the Criminal Code so those who neglect seniors under their care are penalized. This move rightly takes aims at long-term care operators who put profits ahead of residents.”
The pandemic also highlighted another public policy failure: The number of people who experience homelessness and are left to fend for themselves. Nurses say the government’s pledge to eliminate chronic homelessness addresses a long-standing promise to develop a national housing strategy. Grinspun says “the 250,000 people across the country who have no place to call home have been waiting for far too long. COVID-19 has shown that those without a permanent home are at greater risk of illness and disease and that the best treatment is housing. We are particularly pleased with the focus on rapid housing in the short-term and the partnering with not-for-profit and co-ops in the mid- to long-term. Nurses will also hold the government’s feet to the fire on its explicit intent to support Indigenous Peoples and northern communities,” adds Grinspun.
Ensuring A Just Recovery for All also means that nurses – who make up the largest segment of health workers fighting the pandemic – must be recognized for their knowledge and expertise. “Our contribution to clinical care and health system decision-making has always been critical and never been more visible,” says Grinspun. “This is why we ask government to reinstate the role of the National Chief Nursing Officer (CNO). Having someone in this position will result in better human resources and deployment planning, movement on expanded scope of practice for RNs and NPs, and help root our health system in primary care – all essential priorities as we deal with the second wave and build back a stronger Canada,” says Grinspun. “The position of the National CNO ended under the previous government of Stephen Harper and there is no better time to reinstate this role than now, 2020, a year designated by the World Health Organization as the Year of the Nurse in honour of Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing, to recognize all nurses fighting the pandemic.”
RNAO is heartened to hear the government remains committed to bring in a national pharmacare plan. Such a program covering all essential prescription drugs has been a key demand of RNAO for years. “Not only is our current system unsustainable, it means that in a country as rich as ours, one in five Canadians either lacks sufficient drug coverage or knows someone who does,” says RNAO President Morgan Hoffarth. “It forces people to make hard choices, in some cases, rationing prescription medications or going without. Not only is this plain wrong, it’s bad for health and extremely costly,” Hoffarth adds.
Among those feeling the weight of the pandemic are families, especially working parents. RNAO is applauding a commitment to improve child care as a key plank in the government’s agenda. “This is an issue where many promises have been made and yet, little concrete action is taken. Today’s announcement to create a national early learning and child care system is a promising start,” says Hoffarth.
Other measures announced in the throne speech that nurses support include:
- ongoing efforts to address the opioid crisis
- addressing food insecurity and clean water, especially in Indigenous communities
- environmental initiatives including promises to exceed Canada’s current 2030 climate goals, achieving net zero emissions by 2050, retrofitting homes, money for transit and active transportation, pollution pricing and investments to combat climate disasters.
RNAO says no recovery from COVID-19 is possible if those who are most vulnerable are left out. The association says it will continue its advocacy on behalf of its members and other health professionals fighting the pandemic. “The health and well-being of all Canadians depend on a committed voice that will remain loud and clear as we fight this pandemic with every ounce of our collective strength,” says Hoffarth.
“COVID-19 has confronted us with a global crisis we’ve not experienced in generations,” concludes Hoffarth. “It is no surprise that some may want to use the crisis to advance extraneous agendas. As nurses we reject arguments claiming we should not advance social and environmental agendas because we are incurring fiscal debts. The real crushing debts Canadians face are growing inequality, social injustice and ecological devastation – all causing ill health. As nurses we say: now is the perfect time to strengthen our Canada and the real future of our children,” Hoffarth insists.
Update on RNAO webinars and events
Health System Transformation & COVID-19 Webinars - On Monday, October 5, 6:45-8:00 pm we will be holding the next webinar for health providers that includes updates on COVID-19 and our health systems. Details will be posted as they become available here and you can register here. Information on past webinars, including videos and presentation slides, can be found here.
Let’s Talk about Anti-Black Racism and Discrimination in Nursing
This is a monthly webinar series designed for members of the public interested in receiving updates on RNAO’s Black Nurses Task Force and to engage 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.
The upcoming webinar will be on Monday, October 19, 6:45-8:15 pm – stay tuned for details here. Information about past webinars, including presentation slides, can be found here.
Landscape and Emerging Issues with E- Cigarettes: Webinar Series
Webinar 1 of a 3 part series - Wednesday, October 14, 12:00 - 13:00 pm
Vaping Landscape and Overview 101
This webinar is in partnership with the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO), Community Health Nurses’ Initiatives group (CHNIG) and Community Health Nurses of Canada (CHNC).
- understand the prevalence of vaping in Ontario and across Canada
- understand the mechanism of vaping (primary focus: nicotine)
- articulate health impacts of vaping
- discuss how nurses and other health-care providers can provide clients with prevention, protection and cessation support
- Dr. Robert Schwartz, PhD, University of Toronto, Dalla Lana School of Public Health, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Ontario Tobacco Research Unit
- Mathew McGuigan, RN, BScN, Chatham Kent Public Health
Nursing and Compassionate Care in the Age of Artificial Intelligence Virtual Symposium
The symposium will happen on Wednesday, 21 October, 1:00-4:30 pm.
A new era in health care and in nursing has begun. COVID-19 has accelerated the adoption of virtual care delivery models in Canada. According to a recent Ipsos poll, in the next 10 years, Canadians envision a health-care system with health technologies powered by artificial intelligence (AI) — such as predictive analytics and robotics.
RNAO and AMS Healthcare are hosting a virtual pan-Canadian symposium to bring together nurses and other stakeholders to critically reflect and discuss this important topic.
Join us at our virtual symposium to learn more about the emerging future and its potential impacts on the delivery of compassionate care and on the nursing profession more broadly.
Target audience: nurses in all roles and sectors, other health professionals, educators, health service administrators, researchers, policy makers, media and technology experts.
The event is free, but registration is required. REGISTER NOW
Today is day #191 of RNAO’s #TogetherWeCanDoIt campaign. RNAO began this campaign on March 19 to cheer up health care workers and others in essential services. A central pillar of our campaign is #Maskathon to help spread the message and the actions of masks-for-all!
The number of new cases in Ontario has been for the past two weeks around 400 daily or more and many believe we are already in the second wave of COVID19. As we urge our government to take swifter actions - swifter than those announced today, to halt the spread of COVID-19 in Ontario, we also must work on ourselves, friends, family members, colleagues, neighbors and just about anyone we know to protect ourselves and others.
To keep our patience and resilience with all of these, here is some fun. Beautiful masks and colleagues who remind us to not let our guard down – here and here and here and here. And, an AMAZING story inspired by RNAO – a must read and enjoy!
Visit our website for #Maskathon message alongside RNAO’s Maskathon Portal where you can borrow graphics for your own social media play! And, join us on the #Maskathon challenge by wearing your mask correctly, as together we educate and encourage everyone – to wear a mask including children!
Post your pics using #Maskathon because #TogetherWeCanDoIt.
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 latest Situation Report #244 for 25 September:
Direction de la gestion des situations d’urgence pour le système de santé
September 25, 2020 / 25 Septembre 2020
Case count as of 8:00 am September 25, 2020 / Nombre de cas à 8h00 le 25 septembre 2020
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
Worldwide total /
32 457 983
Staying in touch
Please continue to keep in touch and share questions, comments and challenges. Send these to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and copy my executive assistant, Peta-Gay (PG) Batten <email@example.com>. RNAO’s Board of Directors and our entire staff want you to know: WE ARE HERE FOR YOU!
Thank you deeply to each and all of you for being there for our communities – everywhere and in all roles! Together, in solidarity, we are stronger and more resilient. These continue to be tough times for many colleagues – especially those working in the front lines in the US, India, Brazil, Russia, Peru, Colombia, Mexico, South Africa, Spain, Argentina, Chile, Iran, and other places that are also hit hard by evil COVID-19!
Remember, during stressful and exhausting times, the only silver lining is -- coming together and working as one people – for the good of all!
As case numbers are now consistently increasing in Canada – in particular in Quebec and Ontario – we must redouble our efforts to tackle COVID-19 with the best tools at hand: full, accurate and transparent information, public health swift actions, and individual accountability.
Doris Grinspun, RN,MSN, PhD, LLD(hon), Dr(hc), FAAN, O.ONT
Chief Executive Officer, RNAO
PAST BLOG ITEMS:
18 Sept - Is Your Hospital Using Blood Wisely? – go here.
18 Sept - RNAO calls to Delay Action on CNO Council Decision to Expand RPN Scope – go here.
11 Sept - International Overdose Awareness Day: Statement from RNAO – go here.
11 Sept - RNAO joins global movement: A Just Recovery for All – go here.
28 August - RNAO letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau regarding Speech from the Throne – go here.
21 August - Black August and an update on RNAO’s Anti-Black Nursing Task Force – go here.
21 August - Winter Surge Planning: How one Ontario Health Team is Preparing – go here.
14 August - Insights from Cuba: Primary care as the focus of COVID-19 prevention – go here.
7 August - School reopening: Ontario government can still do the right thing on class sizes – go here.
31 July - Preparing for the second wave of COVID-19: Discussion – go here.
31 July - Important announcement regarding the VIANurse program – go here.
31 July - Government must immediately mandate hiring to avert second tragedy in LTC – go here.
24 July - Preparing for the second wave of COVID-19: What is the plan? – go here.
17 July - RNAO launches new social media campaign #Maskathon – go here.
17 July - RNAO calls on government to reunite families in LTC homes in Ontario – go here.
10 July - Nurses’ mental health, leave of absence and return to work experiences – go here.
10 July - RNAO continues to pursue family reunification in LTC – go here.
10 July - Support Zimbabwean nurses arrested and fired for protesting deteriorating pay and working conditions during pandemic – go here.
3 July - RNAO launches task force to tackle anti-Black racism within the nursing profession – go here.
3 July - Rather than praise, let’s protect our nurses – go here.
3 July - Nurses celebrated diversity during Pride month – go here.
26 June - Nursing Home Basic Care Guarantee – go here.
26 June - Masks for all – the policy imperative in Canada – go here.
18 June - Annual General Meeting – an exhilarating week! – go here.
12 June - Petition on masks for Canada – go here.
12 June - LTC: RNAO releases list of 35 reports and recommendations dating back 20 years – go here.
6 June - Statement – RNAO stands together with our Black sisters and brothers – go here.
3 June - Adapting harm reduction during a pandemic – go here.
29 May - Foot care nurses – go here.
29 May - Update on pandemic pay; pandemic pay in consumption and treatment sites – go here.
28 May - RNAO Calls for Immediate Action in Response to the Canadian Armed Forces’ LTC report – go here.
26 May - Update on VIANurse – go here.
26 May - Ending homelessness: Will you join us to build a COVID-19 recovery for all? – go here.
24 May - Technology as a solution: Opportunities and pitfalls of COVID contact-tracing apps – go here.
21 May - Debunking PPE myths with Dr. Jeff Powis: Which masks should health care workers wear during COVID-19? – go here.
20 May - RNAO response to announcement of an independent commission into Ontario's long-term care system – go here.
19 May - With the pandemic curve flattening, VIANurse program will focus its effort on outbreaks – go here.
14 May - Nursing Week update – go here.
14 May - Pandemic puts health system to the test: Nurses have answers for shortfalls – go here.
14 May - Disappointment for not being included in pandemic pay – go here.
13 May - RNAO saddened by the loss RN Brian Beattie to COVID-19 – go here.
13 May - End racism and prejudice – go here.
12 May – Enhancing Community Care for Ontarians (ECCO 3.0) – go here
11 May - Nurses share their successes and challenges during National Nursing Week – go here.
10 May - A story of hope, ingenuity, support and genuine care for an LTC resident – go here.
7 May - Counting the missing deaths: Tracking the toll of the coronavirus outbreak – go here.
5 May - Life on the front lines of the pandemic: Profile of RNAO member NP Daria Gefrerer – go here.
5 May - Addressing differential access to virtual care due to technology inequities – go here.
3 May - Being person-and-family-centred during COVID-19 – go here.
1 May - Migrant agricultural workers and the COVID-19 crisis – go here.
30 April - COVID-19 pandemic in provincial institutions and correctional centres – go here.
28 April - Supporting First Nation Communities during COVID-19 – go here.
27 April - Responses to COVID-19 for persons experiencing homelessness in Toronto: An update – go here.
25 April - Lessons learned through a COVID-19 nursing home outbreak – go here.
25 April - Letter from a retired RN to Premier Ford: The problems with LTC were evident long before COVID – go here.
23 April - Working with seniors in long-term care requires specialized knowledge – go here.
22 April - Shaking the stigma: We need a proactive COVID-19 response for mental health and addiction – go here.
21 April - We Require Expanded and Accessible COVID-19 Data in Ontario – go here.
20 April - Can Loss of Smell and Taste Help Screen for COVID-19? – go here.
18 April - COVID, Trump and the World Health Organization – go here.
16 April - A Home Based Model To Confront COVID-19 – The Case Of The Balearic Islands – go here.
15 April - COVID-19 and the Challenges in Homecare – go here.
14 April - Reprocessing Of N95 – An Update – go here.
14 April - A New COVID-19 Facility For Persons Experiencing Homelessness In Toronto – go here.
13 April - Practical Tips for Safe Use of Masks – go here.
10 April - Ontario’s Tragedy in Long Term Care Homes and Retirement Homes – go here.
10 April - RNAO Action – Supporting Long-Term Care – go here.
10 April - Update For Nursing Students – NCLEX Exam – go here.
9 April - Celebrating Passover, Good Friday, Holy Saturday, Easter Sunday and the start of Ramadan during a pandemic – go here.
9 April - Guidance on use of N95 mask – go here.
7 April - Sentinel surveillance and on-site testing in the homeless service sector – go here.
7 April - Reprocessing of n95 – safe? – go here.
5 April - We must change the way we do testing and case definition – go here.
5 April - Ringing the alarm bells on critical care beds – go here.
4 April - COVID-19, stay at home and domestic violence – go here.
We have posted earlier ones in my blog here. Please go and take a look.
Ontario’s public website on the COVID-19 is there to inform the general public – encourage your family and friends to access this public website. The WHO has provided an excellent link for you to share with members of the public here.
Please promote the use of Ontario’s COVID-19 self-assessment tool: It also has a guide where to seek care, if necessary. Its use will provide the province with real-time data on the number and geography of users who are told to seek care, self-isolate or to monitor for symptoms. Data will inform Ontario's ongoing response to keep individuals and families safe.
Health Canada's website provides the best information capturing all of Canada. It contains an outbreak update, Canada's response to the virus, travel advice, symptoms and treatment, and resources for health professionals.
You can find up-to-date global numbers in Coronavirus COVID-19 Global Cases by Johns Hopkins CSSE.