Dr Doris Grinspun, CEO os the Registered Nurses Association of Ontario (RNAO), speaks with attendees at an event at Bacchus Restaurant in Windsor, November 11, 2019. Photo by Mark Brown/Blackburn News.

RNAO CEO addresses opioids, nursing cuts in Windsor event

The CEO of Ontario’s nurses’ association is hearing from local nurses on what their biggest challenges and concerns are.

The Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO) is in the midst of its annual fall tour, during which its top executives travel across the province to hear from the people who perform the work, as well as those studying to be nurses. The RNAO is seeking to get input on what it calls its two main priorities for the soon-to-be-sworn-in federal government, opioids and nursing cuts.

The tour made a stop Monday night at Bacchus Restaurant in Windsor, with Dr. Doris Grinspun, RNAO’s CEO, personally listening one-on-one to nurses, nurse practitioners and nursing students from Windsor-Essex and Chatham-Kent.

Grinspun, born in Chile and educated in Israel, told reporters at the event that the ongoing opioid crisis was the chief concern of nurses in Windsor-Essex. She said it’s taking its toll on nurses and those who care for those suffering from addiction, and she publicly called on Windsor Police Chief Pam Mizuno to address the crisis.

“I think it’s very important for Ms. Mizuno to make a statement moving forward, not looking at the past on what Windsor will do and where the police stand on the issue of the opioid crisis,” said Grinspun.

With the City of Windsor reticent on the subject of consumption sites, Grinspun said research shows that in cities where such facilities are located, the likelihood of people dying from opioid overdoses is reduced.

“Let’s move forward now because the evidence shows that consumption services are important,” said Grinspun. “The RNAO has amassed all the evidence that there is because we produce evidence-based guidelines, including the one for safe injection services.”

The critical issue facing nurses across the province has been the provincial government’s restructuring of the health care system, which some fear may result in a lack of quality healthcare in Ontario. Calling attention to the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit’s recent layoffs of nine nurses, Grinspun said it’s time for the government to add quality staff, not take it away.

“There is a mismatch of opportunities,” said Grinspun. “This is not the time to do away with a single RN because the system needs them to provide access to care for people in Windsor.”

In addition to Windsor, Grinspun is stopping in five additional Ontario cities as part of the RNAO’s fall tour.