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May 13, 2020

Nurses to meet with parliamentarians to call for more robust pandemic preparedness

Media Release
Nurses Week

MEDIA RELEASE: Nurses to meet with parliamentarians to call for more robust pandemic preparedness

May 13, 2020 (OTTAWA, ON) – As part of National Nursing Week, Canada’s nurses will welcome members of parliament, senators and health care stakeholders to a virtual event focused on infectious disease preparedness and response. The event aims to build awareness of the lessons learned from the 2003 SARS outbreak and how these can be better applied to the COVID-19 pandemic and future outbreaks.

In the weeks leading up to COVID-19 reaching Canada, the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions, an organization representing more than 200,000 nurses, began calling for governments and health care sector employers to err on the side of caution and follow the advice set out in the SARS Commission report.

“This National Nursing Week, we not only want to celebrate the people who are working to keep us safe during this pandemic, we want to make sure they’re kept safe too,” said CFNU President, Linda Silas.

Access to adequate personal protective equipment has worried nurses unions since the start of the pandemic. Faced with a novel virus, of which the transmission mechanisms are still being debated by the scientific community, the CFNU has been especially vocal about the precautionary principle – a key lesson from the SARS crisis, that calls for erring on the side of caution when the science has yet to be settled.

“We can do better and we must do better,” declared Silas.

The webinar will include a number of expert panelists who will share their critical insight on Canada’s approach to infectious disease outbreaks and discuss how we can strengthen our health care system to be better prepared for future health crises: Mario Possamai, occupational health and safety expert and former senior advisor to the SARS Commission; Dr. Samir Sinha, director of geriatrics at Sinai Health System and director of health policy research at the National Institute on Ageing; Sharleen Stewart, president of SEIU Healthcare; and Vicki McKenna RN, president of the Ontario Nurses’ Association.

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The Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions (CFNU) is Canada’s largest nurses’ organization representing nearly 200,000 nurses and student nurses. The CFNU has been advocating for national discussions on key health priorities, such as a national prescription drug plan, a comprehensive approach to long-term and continuing care, greater attention to health human resources, and federal government engagement on the future of public health care.