TORONTO, Feb. 11, 2021 /CNW/ – The Ontario Nurses’ Association (ONA) is repeating its call for the province to immediately mandate that all registered nurses, nurse practitioners, registered practical nurses and health-care professionals don the highest level of personal protective equipment (PPE) to protect them from airborne COVID-19.
“ONA’s 68,000 front-line members – and health-care workers in general – have been put at risk of contracting COVID-19 since the beginning of this pandemic, with tragic results,” notes ONA President Vicki McKenna, RN. “One of our RNs has died, and many have been sickened, as have far too many other health-care workers who were inadequately protected while doing their best to provide care for Ontarians. ONA has been calling for Ontario to adopt the precautionary principle in protecting workers from COVID-19 for more than a year. We cannot wait any longer. Health-care workers are continuing to be put at risk.”
McKenna points to the province of Quebec, which has led the way in Canada in mandating that its nurses require airborne protection when in proximity of confirmed or possible COVID-19-infected patients. The province’s workplace safety board has recommended that, as of February 11, to adequately protect health-care workers, respirators should be worn in areas where there is a risk of exposure to SARS-CoV-2.
While the Quebec safety board cited “new scientific knowledge” for making the decision, McKenna says that airborne transmission of COVID-19 became increasingly accepted through the fall of 2020. “ONA is outraged that the Chief Medical Officer of Health and this government have yet to recognize the need to err on the side of caution and proactively mandate a higher level of PPE to protect against airborne transmission, despite the evidence and our repeated calls. Those working in our health-care system have been infected with this coronavirus at too high a rate. Is it any wonder our members are burnt-out and suffering unbearable levels of stress?”
“Ontario now lags behind the Public Health Agency of Canada and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in recognizing that COVID-19 can be airborne,” says McKenna. “Now we can add that Ontario is behind Quebec in the proper protection of those who have the responsibility of saving lives. It’s irresponsible and outrageous.”
ONA is the union representing 68,000 registered nurses and health-care professionals as well as more than 18,000 nursing student affiliates providing care in hospitals, long-term care facilities, public health, the community, clinics and industry.
SOURCE Ontario Nurses’ Association