Ontario Nurses’ Association Strongly Supports Provincial Auditor-General’s Audit on Government Response to Pandemic

November 25, 2020

TORONTO, Ont. (November 25, 2020) – The Ontario Nurses’ Association (ONA) strongly supports the findings of Ontario Auditor-General Bonnie Lysyk’s report on the provincial response to COVID-19 and urges immediate changes be implemented.

ONA President Vicki McKenna, RN says, “The report released today is perceptive and on-target. As the union representing more than 68,000 registered nurses and health-care professionals, ONA has tried to provide our expertise and experience to decision makers before, during and throughout the pandemic with varying degrees of success.

“As RNs, we experienced the reality of SARS and warned government early about the need for proper protective equipment, appropriate infection prevention and control measures for long-term care and congregate settings,” she says. “ONA has made every effort to ensure Ontario avoided repeating the mistakes of SARS. Unfortunately, much of our advice has not been acted on – and when it was, it was not acted on quickly enough.

“The SARS Commission’s final report identified the precautionary principle as the most important lesson of SARS. Delays in establishing a COVID‐19 emergency response structure, alerting Ontarians to avoid unnecessary travel, acknowledging community transmission, requiring long‐term‐care homes to take necessary precautions, and the high incidence of health-care worker illness all suggest this principle was not followed in a timely way,” she says.

McKenna adds that one of the most alarming errors during COVID-19 has been the refusal to acknowledge the possibility of airborne transmission of the coronavirus. “We have seen history repeat itself during the pandemic,” she says. “Infectious disease experts released advice that did not follow the precautionary principle – to err on the side of caution until the science becomes clear – and our patients, long-term care residents and Ontario RNs and health-care workers have paid the ultimate price for that. Government did not heed the lessons from SARS, and we find ourselves today in a serious second wave of the pandemic and with thousands infected. Cuts to public health units also contributed to challenges in slowing the spread of COVID-19.”

“ONA is calling for the excellent recommendations in the auditor-general’s report to be acted on immediately,” she says. “We need our public health officials to have the ability to do what they do best – keep Ontarians safe – without political interference.”

ONA is the union representing more than 68,000 registered nurses and health-care professionals, as well as 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