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Registered practical nurses essential to hospital care

May 8, 2017

(Toronto) – One of the two classifications of nurses, registered practical nurses (RPNs) will have a tough time celebrating Nursing Week this week.

The Registered Nurses Association of Ontario (RNAO) has repeated their demands to have all RPNs eliminated from Ontario hospitals, but have masked their agenda in a call for an all-RN workforce. Over 18,000 RPNs work in Ontario hospitals.

“A staff mix based on the needs of patients is not a new concept and RPNs have provided essential care in Ontario hospitals for decades,” said Jerry Dias, President of Unifor. “Their curriculum, training and skill set has increased significantly to keep pace with the needs relevant to our entire health care system, and there is no viable reason for this demand except possibly self-preservation.”

Assistant to the National President and RPN, Katha Fortier notes that “the RNAO points to 70 years of studies to justify their position, but ultimately with the evolution in roles of the RN and the RPN over the last two decades these studies have little relevance. Both classifications of nurses are regulated and can practice autonomously, and all nurses are trained specifically to recognize when something is beyond their scope of practice, much in the same way a nurse practitioner would know when she or he needs to refer a patient to a doctor.”

Fortier adds, “Ultimately, health care is provided with an entire team of caregivers and support staff, all of whom are integral to the system operating in an efficient manner. Unifor recognizes their important contribution, and is committed to defending the practice of RPNs in our hospitals.”

For further information: please contact Unifor Communications National Representative
Shelley Amyotte at or 902-717-7491 (cell).