The COVID-19 pandemic has
stretched registered nurse and health care professionals beyond what
possible. Ontario Nurses' Association (ONA) members are suffering
record levels of burn out, fatigue and are increasingly experiencing
moral and emotional distress from the demands on them and what they
have witnessed their patients, residents and clients experience.
has from the beginning taken every action possible to advocate for
members' health and safety. ONA raised the issue with the Province of
the spread in long-term care homes before a pandemic was declared.
Having learned the lessons of SARS -- that is, ensuring the
precautionary principle is used to keep patients and the staff who care
for them safe -- ONA has been unrelenting in its fight for protections.
At times, when negotiations with government were not successful, ONA
has turned to the courts -- successfully -- to force for-profit
long-term care homes to equip their staff with personal protective
As mental health in Ontarians and among
health care workers
declines, nurses can turn to the Nurses' Health Program developed in
conjunction with other nursing organizations. ONA notes that the
Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions has resources available as well.
Sadly, the calls of ONA and its members for measures to
the nursing shortage and improve long-term care have been ignored,
and the result has been made clear during the pandemic. If there is
anything good to come from COVID-19, nurses hope that it will be
improvements in Registered Nurse staffing levels, long-term care and
a bolstering of our public health system. The pandemic has shown more
clearly than ever that nurses remain the backbone of our health care
This article was published in
April 26, 2021 - No.