This variant may be less severe, but here's why we should remain vigilant. This column is an opinion from Dr. Cory Neudorf, an interim senior medical health officer with the Saskatchewan Health Authority. The article appeared in CBC.CA on January 18.
RNAO issued a media release on Jan. 20 following the government’s announcement that it plans to start lifting public health measures. The Ontario government’s announcement today to ease public health measures beginning Jan. 31 is premature and will prolong the current health system crisis, says RNAO.
RNAO’s CEO Doris Grinspun made a deputation to the Toronto Board of Health on Jan. 17. RNAO recognizes the importance of our public education system for all children’s learning, physical, social and emotional development. In principle, there is no question – school is where kids and youth ought to be. However, the provincial government’s response to school safety has mirrored its response to the pandemic generally. Public health measures have been too little, too late – undermining our capacity to ameliorate the damage caused by the virus, and jeopardizing recovery.
In December 2021, RNAO spoke to the media about several prominent, timely issues including the ongoing nursing shortage, Bill 124 and booster vaccines. We also commented on the Ontario government’s announcements prior to the holidays, including changes to capacity limits, testing requirements and reporting of cases.
RNAO issued a letter to Premier Doug Ford on Jan. 5, 2022. As the fifth wave of this pandemic rages, the cracks in our health system are clear for all to see. The reactive and last-minute management of this pandemic must end. There is no separate trajectory for Ontario’s economy while this virus ravages the people of this province and threatens to bring our health system to its knees. Ontarians desperately need the help of the nursing profession to succeed in fighting Omicron. As the premier of this province, it is on you to bring hope back to our nursing profession.
Three RNAO media releases during the last week addressed the current pandemic context in Ontario and the responses from government. 1. RNAO’s media conference - Nursing crisis risks patient safety and health of Ontarians. 2. Response to the Ontario government Dec. 15 announcement - RNAO welcomes plan to move up eligibility dates for third doses; urges additional public health measures. 3. Response to Ontario public health measures announced Dec. 17 - RNAO says government’s new measures essential but not enough to blunt Omicron’s force.
The Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO) says the province’s nursing crisis is spiraling out of control. Yet the Ontario government insists on keeping Bill 124, which nurses say is a slap in the face. RNAO will hold a media conference on Tuesday, Dec. 14 at 2:30 p.m. ET to call on the premier to take immediate action, and discuss crucial next steps to address Bill 124 and Ontario’s nursing crisis.
Bill 124, passed by the Ford government in 2019, caps compensation increases for a broad range of public sector workers, including nurses, at just one per cent. The average inflation rate in Ontario was 4.0 per cent for the past 12 months, so nurses were treated to a decrease in their real income of 3.0%. Pushing down substantially the compensation for nurses and other primarily female essential workers (i.e., police and firefighters excluded) during a pandemic is not only reckless policy – it is also insulting.
RNAO calls on Premier Doug Ford to immediately exempt nurses and other health-care workers from Bill 124: "An act to implement moderation measures in respect of compensation in Ontario’s public sector". Health-care workers that fall under Bill 124 will emerge from this pandemic not just exhausted and burnt out, but also with a loss of income in real terms.