Ontario’s nurses say COVID-19 pandemic highlights need for sweeping reforms


TORONTO — The organization representing Ontario’s nurses says the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for sweeping reforms to the province’s health-care system.

The Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario is updating its previous calls for change in part by incorporating lessons learned from the deadly outbreak that’s killed at least 1,600 people in the province so far.

The Association says the health-care system is too focused on hospitals and should instead concentrate on providing comprehensive primary care for all.

It sets out 13 recommendations in a report dubbed ECCO 3.0.

Those recommendations include a call to integrate long-term care homes in Ontario’s regional health teams to ensure they don’t fall through the cracks of the health-care system.

Other recommendations include extending primary care into settings like homeless shelters, modernizing staffing and housing models in congregate care settings, and expanding primary care to include addiction and mental health services.

“There is a crying need to enhance community care as we take stock of lessons-learned during COVID-19. Precious lives were lost due to weaknesses in our health system, in particular the neglect of congregate settings such as nursing homes, retirement homes and shelters,” the Association said in its report. “We must seize the moment to build a stronger health system for all who call Ontario home.”