Nurses central to the agreement signed by prime minister and premier

TORONTO, Feb. 9, 2024 /CNW/ – The Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO) applauds the federal and provincial governments for working together to solve the health system challenges Ontarians face.

RNAO President Dr. Claudette Holloway and CEO Dr. Doris Grinspun were pleased to witness the signing of a $3.1 billion health transfer agreement to support Ontario’s publicly funded, not-for-profit health system on priority areas, such as increasing nursing human resources, team-based primary care, and supports for mental health and substance use.

Commenting on the tragedy in Belleville where 23 people experienced drug overdoses in the span of less than two days, Holloway calls on the province to change its course with a harm reduction approach. “These are 23 individuals with family, friends and people who care about their livelihood. More must be done immediately to address the increasingly toxic drug supply,” says Holloway. In addition to focusing on treatment, Ontario must open supervised consumption sites in every community in need – including, urgently, Belleville. “A harm reduction approach that includes the decriminalization of simple drug possession, and increased access to supervised consumption and safer supply sites will save lives,” adds Holloway.

Speaking about primary care, Holloway is pleased RNAO’s call is being heeded: “Nurses have said it time and time again: A well-functioning health system is anchored in a robust primary care sector. Today’s agreement shows that the federal government supports the expansion of publicly funded, not-for-profit primary care – a move that will help alleviate stressors on other health sectors, remove barriers to care and limit opportunities for private, for-profit clinics.”

“We must now speed up the approval of additional interprofessional team-based primary care models, including nurse practitioner (NP)-led clinics, community health centres, Aboriginal health access centres and family health teams – so every Ontarian has access to primary care when they need it,” urges Holloway.

In its recent federal pre-budget submission, RNAO outlines the need for increased federal funding to address the primary care crisis and ensure all Ontarians are attached to a primary care provider. “Fully utilizing NPs and registered nurses (RN) in clinics across the province is key to improving health access,” says Grinspun. “The new federal funding support allows for solutions proposed by RNAO to be immediately implemented, including a publicly-funded salary stream for independent NP practice, without needing to charge user fees. For-profit care has no place in our province – it compromises patient safety and suctions health human resources from our public system,” adds Grinspun.

As the premier said in his remarks during the media conference, RNAO is passionate about making sure the province has enough nurses. That’s why the association calls for 600 additional NP seats in Ontario’s universities over the next three years, and to add 25,000 RNs to catch up with the rest of Canada’s RN-per-capita ratio.

“Our province is healing and we must stay steadfast with building primary care, improving mental health and substance use services, and strengthening nursing in Ontario,” emphasizes Grinspun. “RNAO has provided a roadmap in its Nursing Career Pathways report, outlining the retention and recruitment efforts that will ensure nurses build their careers in Ontario, including important actions needed to eliminate racism and discrimination in the health system. RNAO will continue to advocate and work with the government to realize a nursing workforce and health system that leaves no one behind.”

The Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO) is the professional association representing registered nurses, nurse practitioners and nursing students in Ontario. Since 1925, RNAO has advocated for healthy public policy, promoted excellence in nursing practice, increased nurses’ contribution to shaping the health system, and influenced decisions that affect nurses and the public we serve. For more information about RNAO, visit or follow us on X (formerly Twitter)Facebook and Instagram.

SOURCE Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario

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