TORONTO, March 17, 2016 /CNW/ - Ontario's registered nurses (RN), nurse practitioners (NP) and nursing students are lending their voice to a group of Toronto city-wide leaders as they seek to bring life-saving supervised injection services (SIS) to the city.
On Monday, medical officer of health David McKeown announced three Toronto health organizations were planning to add small-scale SIS to their existing health services in order to tackle the city's rising number of fatal overdoses, which peaked at more than 200 in 2013. And today, the Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario's (RNAO) Chief Executive Officer Doris Grinspun joined a group of prominent Canadians from all walks of life – including government, academia, business and the non-profit sector – in supporting this harm-reduction initiative.
"Offering these services to the people of Toronto will both save lives and help build a healthier city for everyone," says Grinspun, a former director of nursing at Toronto's Mount Sinai hospital. "Nurses are proud to support this bold, evidence-based initiative and will do all we can to ensure these services are made available in a timely, accessible and person-centred manner."
The city-wide leaders announced their support at a media event today at City Hall. They noted more than 90 sites offering SIS are currently operating worldwide, and have shown to reduce overdose deaths, limit the transmission of diseases such as HIV and hepatitis C, and connect drug users with other social services and supports.
RNAO has long advocated for supervised injection services as a necessary harm reduction strategy. Nurses helped launch Vancouver's Insite locations – where RNs supervise injections – and RNAO was the catalyst for a coalition of nursing organizations that fought against then Prime Minister Stephen Harper's attempts to shut Insite down.
"Harm reduction is part of the holistic approach that nurses take with all of their clients – it's just what we do," says RNAO President Vanessa Burkoski. "We congratulate Dr. McKeown, Coun. Joe Cressy, and the participating health organizations for standing up for the health of all members of our community."
Public meetings will be held over the next few months to provide information and hear from members of the public. A report will be presented to the Toronto Board of Health on March 21, and city council is expected to vote on the board recommendations this summer.
RNAO is the professional association representing registered nurses, nurse practitioners, and nursing students in Ontario. Since 1925, RNAO has advocated for healthy public policy, promoted excellence in nursing practice, increased nurses' contribution to shaping the health-care system, and influenced decisions that affect nurses and the public they serve. For more information about RNAO, visit our website at RNAO.ca or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
SOURCE Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario
For further information: or to arrange an interview with a nurse, please contact: Daniel Punch, Communications Officer/Writer, Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario, 416-408-5606, dpunch@RNAO.ca