VON Statement: Broadening the scope and responsibilities of Ontario nurses

VON is pleased to hear of the Ontario Government’s recent call for feedback regarding an expanded role for registered nurses in the province’s healthcare system. For over 122 years, VON has been on the front lines of healthcare, delivering innovative patient-centered health solutions to Canadians in their homes, and in their communities. With this long history of caring for patients and their families, we understand the need to adapt to ever-evolving demands in the health sector.

It is encouraging to see action being taken following the 2017 changes to the Nursing Act that made room for registered nurses to both prescribe certain medications and communicate diagnoses for the purpose of prescribing medication. Since then, stakeholders from across the province’s healthcare sector have been asked to contribute to the development of standards and regulation that will bring improved access and care to patients across Ontario. 

The College of Nurses of Ontario (CNO) has sought the expertise of various stakeholders to develop a framework that further realizes the value of registered nurses. This extension of care will help to reduce current barriers to access and will provide clear benefits to patients and their families, while also contributing to the overall sustainability of the health system in Ontario.

Under the broadened scope, registered nurses would be permitted to prescribe medications related to wound care and smoking cessation, as well as contraceptives and travel health medications and vaccines. Providing this increased ability to prescribe can lead to better support for patients who require access to knowledgeable healthcare professionals, and is complementary to what is currently provided. This is especially true in areas of the province that are currently underserviced. 

Leaders in Ontario’s nursing community have called for the provincial government to broaden the scope of practice for registered nurses since 2012. At a time when Ontario’s healthcare system faces ongoing pressures, and patients continue to wait for care, this call-to-action and need to adapt are increasingly meaningful.

VON is encouraged to see this conversation progressing and we look forward to seeing our passionate and dedicated home care nurses contributing even more to healthcare innovation in Ontario.