Ontario Nurses’ Association Appalled that Watered-down Guideline Allows Employers to Force Nurses Back to Work

March 20, 2020

Nurses, health-care workers must not report to work after travel until healthy and safe to do so, says ONA

TORONTO, March 20, 2020 – The Ontario Nurses’ Association (ONA) is shocked and appalled at the failure of the Minister of Health and Chief Medical Officer of Health to issue a directive to provincial health-care facilities regarding self-isolation practices for nurses and other health-care workers following travel.

“I am dumbfounded that the Ministry Command Table issued a ‘guidance’ rather than directive,” says ONA President Vicki McKenna, RN. “The ministry has left the decision about whether or not our workers must self-isolate to individual employers, and we’ve already seen one large hospital deem all nurses and health professionals critical workers and order them in to work when they have just returned from travel. There have been dozens of health-care worker exposures reported because of this situation.

“I am stunned at the willingness of government and employers to set aside caution and put our patients and workers at risk,” she says. “Justice Archie Campbell, who headed the investigation into what went wrong during SARS, would have been shocked and appalled.”

McKenna urges all health-care employers to revisit the guidance and instead issue a directive, ensuring that any health-care workers who have returned from travel self-isolate for 14 days, as every other Ontarian is asked to do. Yes, we need nurses and health-care workers back on the front lines, but we need them to be healthy,” she says.

This is a highly infectious disease,” says McKenna. “Our front-line nurses and health-care professionals want to be there for Ontarians, and need to be safe to do so. They need clear and consistent messages and policies and they need to stay healthy and well as we see more cases of COVID-19. Let’s not send possibly infectious workers back to the front lines prematurely.”

ONA is the union representing more than 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.


For more information:

Sheree Bond (416) 986-8240; shereeb@ona.org