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RNAO calling end to Ontario vaccine program 'a mistake'

The vaccine passport program in Ontario will come to an end March 1
Nurse with patient

The province's announcement to remove the vaccine certificate program on March 1 is getting a thumbs down from the Registered Nurses Association of Ontario.

"To take the passports away I think is an error, because it really puts the responsibility on businesses and they cannot do it," said Doris Grinspun, the RNAO's CEO.

"Unless it's mandatory they cannot. Passports encourage people to get vaccinated and vaccination is still our best tool to fight this pandemic."

Grinspun noted that the removal of the passport will add additional pressure to the healthcare system which is already suffering from staff being overworked.

She said that many people have waited for almost two years for surgeries, and this announcement isn't going to help.

"We need to stabilize the health system for the people that have been patiently and anxiously waiting for a long time for their procedures and surgeries," she said. "These are people with cancer, these are people with heart conditions, non urgent is not non urgent, no one goes to a hospital instead of going to a mall." 

Grinspun said nearly 20,000 internationally educated nurses and many others are waiting to join the front lines as part of the solution in helping to alleviate the pressure on the system.

However, she indicates the regulatory process is both painful and expensive.

"It takes up to anywhere from three years, four years, or even five years waiting for processing, and sometimes, it's an issue with papers with the federal government [as well]."

Grinspun emphasized the need of the College of Nurses of Ontario to fast-track these nurses, and noted that proposals have been provided to the provincial government that include solutions such as using retired nurses to mentor new ones in the training process.

Grinspun said in turn, this will add resources to the system rather than take away from it, bringing more people into the healthcare system. 

"The premier still needs to give a hard, hard look at what he will give to nursing because you need nurses for not only COVID patients but [also for] all those surgeries and procedures," said Grinspun. 

Grinspun said what nurses need most from the premier is full respect.

That includes proper monetary compensation, and a reduction in workload. 

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