Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario

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The Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario (RNAO) is a professional association that represents registered nurses in the province of Ontario, Canada. RNAO provides a strong and credible voice for the nursing profession to influence and promote healthy public policy.[clarification needed]

Mission statement[edit]

"We represent the nursing profession in Ontario, speaking out for health and speaking out for nursing.

Our mission is to pursue healthy public policy and to promote the full participation of registered nurses in shaping and delivering health services now and in the future. We believe health is a resource for everyday living and health-care a universal human right.

We cultivate knowledge-based nursing practices, we promote quality of worklife, and we promise excellence in professional development services.

Respecting human dignity, we are a community committed to diversity, inclusivity, democracy and voluntarism. We make leadership our mandate, working with nurses, the public, health-care providers and governments to advance individual and collective health."

Strategic directions[edit]

The RNAO's strategic directions are to:

  • Influence and promote public policies that strengthen Medicare, and impact the determinants of health.
  • Speak out on emerging issues that impact health,[1] health care and nursing.
  • Advance the nursing profession as a crucial and critical contributor to health.
  • Influence the public to achieve greater engagement in health care.
  • Inspire all RNs and undergraduate nursing students to become members.

Brief history timeline[edit]

The Graduate Nurses' Association of Ontario (GNAO) is formed from the alumni groups of various schools of nursing in Ontario. The GNAO is the forerunner of RNAO and its mandate is to encourage professional development in nurses.
Through the efforts of the GNAO, a Nurses Registration Act was passed by the Ontario Provincial Government.
The Ontario association's name was changed under the Ontario Companies Act, to be known as the Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario (RNAO).
RNAO is instrumental in developing standards for nursing education and practice, and subsequently closes 37 small schools of nursing in Ontario that do not meet with their requirements. The Association protects the title "registered nurse" by making registration mandatory for its use.
The Nurses Registration Act, 1951, culmination of many years of effort and a milestone in the history of nursing in Ontario was passed, giving the Association responsibility for making regulations regarding standards of admission to schools of nursing; courses of study in these schools; setting examinations for registration, and issuing, renewing and cancelling certificates of registration.
The Nurses Act, 1961–62, proclaimed in January 1963, established the college of Nurses of Ontario. With this change in legislation, registration became the responsibility of the College rather than RNAO.
RNAO supported the establishment of a central vehicle for a collective bargaining for nurses, and endorsed the formation of the Ontario Nurses' Association (ONA).
ONA was certified by the Labour Relations Board. RNAO transferred activities related to collective bargaining to ONA.
Out of the Past, An Exciting Future was the theme for the 50th Anniversary. It was celebrated by the publication of Nurse by Eric Handbury.
Formal recognition was given to Interest Groups within RNAO structure. Six had developed during the extended pilot project.
The Minister of Health announced amendments to Regulation 518/88 of the Public Hospitals Act, an Act that enabled nurses to participate in decision making related to administrative, financial, operational and planning matters in the hospital. RNAO had been lobbying for these changes for over eight years.
The Association celebrates its 75th Anniversary. An announcement is made by the Minister of Health Elizabeth Witmer, and Dianne Cunningham, Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities that, beginning in 2005 a baccalaureate degree would be the educational requirement for registered nurses practicing in Ontario.
The Nursing Best Practice Guidelines Project launches its first four guidelines, all related to care for the elderly, at RNAO's international conference: Nursing Best Practice Guidelines: Shaping the Future of Nursing.
RNAO plays a central role in supporting the nursing community and nurses during the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak. RNAO delivers a formal request to Premier Ernie Eves asking the Government of Ontario to order an independent commission of inquiry under the Public Inquiries Act into the SARS outbreak. In response, Premier Eves announces an independent investigation into the outbreak that falls short of a full public inquiry. The Honourable Mr. Justice Archie G. Campbell is appointed to head this investigation.
RNAO celebrates 100 years of organized nursing in the Province at their 79th Annual General Meeting, in recognition of the formation of the GNAO in 1904.
In January, RNAO with partner, University of Ottawa, School of Nursing launch the Nursing Best Practice Research Unit (NBPRU). The NBPRU strives to promote nursing excellence through the study of the best strategies to promote the uptake of research results in all aspects of nursing care and the nursing work environment. On June 14, RNAO releases The 70 per cent Solution report, which shows that government efforts to increase full-time work for RNs are starting to pay off, but the goal of having 70% of all RNs working full time will not be met without more Policy.

Organizational structure[edit]

General membership[edit]

General membership directs the life of the Association through various mechanisms such as involvement in and feedback to the submission of resolutions to the Annual General Meeting, RNAO's committees, surveys, feedback, etc. The membership is composed of over 36,000 registered nurses and nursing students in various categories representing all roles and areas of nursing practice.

Geographical organisation[edit]

RNAO is divided into 12 geographical regions, which are defined according to its bylaws. The regions offer opportunities for Association activities that concentrate on the issues in the particular region. RNAO is organized in Chapters/Regions without Chapters. Chapters/Regions without Chapters allow all members to have a voice in a democratic organization, become proactive, develop a local community and represent RNAO at the local level.

The Assembly[edit]

The functions of the Assembly are to:

  • exchange information relevant to the conduct of business of the Association and its Chapters/Regions without Chapters.
  • provide a provincial viewpoint for the Board of Directors.
  • make recommendations to the Board of Directors.

Interest Groups[edit]

The Interest Group structure of RNAO provides a vehicle for representing expertise in clinical and/or functional aspects of health care. The interest groups concern themselves with the nursing profession from a speciality focus, as well as provide specialized expert input into Association activities. The interest groups are ambassadors of the Home Office and the Board of Directors on speciality matters, and they allow for a constant two way flow of communication and information between members organized according to a speciality area, and RNAO.

Board of Directors[edit]

The RNAO Board of Directors (BOD) operates as a policy-oriented governing board. the Board governs on behalf of the Association's mebership and provides strategic leadership. The Board sets RNAO's strategic direction through its 'ENDs', and the resolutions passed at the Annual General Meeting.

International affairs[edit]

As part of the Best Practice Guidelines Programs, RNAO has recently begun to develop international partnerships to support guideline implementation, guideline evaluation and capacity building. The focus is related to both clinical and healthy work environment best practice guidelines.

Best Practice Guidelines program[edit]

The Best Practice Guidelines Programs includes both the clinical and healthy work environment initiatives.

Clinical Best Practice Guidelines Program
The Clinical Nursing Best Practice Guidelines Program was launched in 1999 when the RNAO in partnership with the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care embarked on a multi-year project to develop, implement, evaluate dissemination and support the uptake of evidence-based guidelines. This initiative includes resources for education and for the support of uptake and sustainability.
Healthy Work Environments Best Practice Guidelines Program
In July 2003, the RNAO with funding from the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, working in partnership with Health Canada, Office of Nursing Policy, commenced the development of evidence based best practice guidelines in order to create a healthy work environment for nurses.

Nursing Students of Ontario Interest Group[edit]

The Nursing Students of Ontario (NSO) is a student-governed interest group of the RNAO. The NSO represents and acts as a resource for Ontario's nursing students. It focuses on the needs, concerns and matters of the nursing student body.


"Empowering nurses of tomorrow, today.

We represent the nursing students of Ontario by empowering nurses of tomorrow, today.

Our mission is to promote, support and empower the full participation of Ontario nursing students as a significant voice within society."

NSO Membership
Membership in NSO is automatic for all undergraduate nursing student members of RNAO. In Ontario, in order to be eligible to become a member of the Canadian Nurses Association, students are required to be members of the RNAO consequently making them members of NSO.


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External links[edit]