We are a broad and diverse group of Canadian nurses from across Canada who are sending out this urgent declaration to the Colleges of Nurses of our various Provinces and Territories and to the Public at large, whom we serve.
In December 2020, Ontario’s College of Nurses (CNO), the governing college, issued a statement to its nurses.
The CNO sent this letter to its members to ensure their expectations were being met when it comes to adhering to public health protection measures. The letter issued a statement forbidding nurses from freely questioning any or all official measures being imposed in response to Covid-19.
The CNO then went on to threaten nurses with punishment – investigations and disciplinary action.
We regard this recent statement of the CNO to be unethical, anti-science and deeply disturbing. As nurses, our primary duty of care is not to the CNO or any other authority, but to the patients we care for. When we became nurses, we made a personal promise to ourselves to always put our patients first and that our ethical and professional duty is always first toward the patients under our care. We have a moral and ethical duty to follow our 4 ethical principles of; benevolence, non-maleficence, justice and autonomy, which supersedes all policies made. The CNO statement, orders us to violate our duty and pledge to our patients in the following ways:
1. Denial of the Scientific Method itself: The CNO is ordering nurses to put aside the scientific method and to not debate or question the processes and conclusions of science. We nurses know and continue to believe that throughout history, opposing views, vigorous debate and openness to new ideas have been the bedrock of scientific progress. Any major advance in science has been arrived at by being allowed to question “official” narratives and following a different path in the pursuit of truth
2. Violation of our Code of Conducts: By ordering us not to debate and not to question, the CNO is also asking us to violate our own code of conduct. This code of conduct was put in place to protect the public and covers six main principles:
The Code consists of six principles:
Nurses respect the dignity of patients and treat them as individuals
Nurses work together to promote patient well-being
Nurses maintain patients’ trust by providing safe and competent care
Nurses work respectfully with colleagues to best meet patients’ needs
Nurses act with integrity to maintain patients’ trust
Nurses maintain public confidence in the nursing profession
As nurses, being allowed to question and have open debate, allows us to advocate for patient’s individual care needs. By stifling nurses this only gives our patients limited or no care options, therefore removing medical freedom. These principles and statements define the values and principles nurses use to fulfill their professional obligations.
The CNO statement orders nurses to not discuss or communicate with the public any measures currently in place. This prevents nurses from being the leaders we are called to be. As per CNO guidelines “All nurses, regardless of role or title, are leaders. Nurses lead every single day in all practice settings.” Nurses lead when they:
Advocate for patients: From advocating for a patient’s specific care goals to speaking up for vulnerable patients who may be in danger, nurses look out for their patients.
Identify risks to patient safety. Nurses put patients first, even when it’s challenging to do so.
Advocate for quality practice settings: Nurses work as a team to create policy changes when necessary to support safe patient care.
Share their knowledge: Nurses collaborate with other care providers, including students and those who are new to the profession or practice setting.
3. Violation of Duty of Informed Consent: The CNO is also ordering nurses to violate the sacred duty of informed consent – which is the process by which the patient/public is fully informed of the risks, benefits and any alternatives to the treatment or intervention, before consent is given. As per CNO, nurses have ethical and legal obligations for obtaining consent. At this time nurses are not meeting their obligations in all health care settings. Alternative resources need to be freely available for our patients, in order to make fully informed decisions regarding their health; medical transparency is now removed.
Furthermore, The RNAO recently published a media release dated May 7, 2021 with a message to Premier Ford and his government to immediately ensure all nurses are fully vaccinated with respect to Covid-19. A decision as to whether or not an injection be made mandatory should never be made. Nurses can’t be put in a position where we lose the ability to advocate for ourselves, if this is taken away from us how are we to be expected to advocate for our patients. https://rnao.ca/news/media-releases/nurses-must-be-fully-vaccinated-immediately-rnao-demands
We nurses believe that with the CNO statement dated December 2020 a seminal moment in the assault on free speech and scientific inquiry has been reached.
By ordering nurses to be silent and follow only one narrative, or else face discipline and censure, the CNO is asking us to violate our conscience, our professional ethics, and the scientific pursuit of truth.
We will never comply and will always put our patients first.
The CNO must immediately withdraw and rescind its statement of December 2020.
We also give notice to other Canadian and international licensing authorities for nurses and allied professions that the stifling of scientific inquiry and any order to violate our conscience and professional pledge to our patients, itself may constitute a crime against humanity.
As stated by the CNO "Patient safety is a collective responsibility. As the nursing regulator in Ontario, we share responsibility for keeping patients safe, and we need your help to do so." We now need your help, we encourage citizens to also hold CNO accountable to do their job to keep you safe by allowing freedom of speech, informed consent, medical freedom and transparency.
We are your Ontario nurses. Taking a stand for you! Will you take a stand for us?
College of Nurses statement regarding expectations related to public health measures
Public health protection measures, such as handwashing, masking, and social distancing are effective strategies to prevent the spread of COVID-19. With the imminent rollout of COVID-19 vaccines in Canada, CNO is taking this opportunity to make its expectations about providing advice on evidence-based public health protection and prevention measures clear to nurses in Ontario.
Nurses are leaders in the community and the public’s trust in nurses may extend to their views on health matters communicated on social media and other forums. Statements made by nurses in public forums have the potential to impact the health and safety of the public.
Nurses have a professional accountability to:
use accurate sources of information based in scientific theory and evidence, to inform their professional service and practice
support patients and the public to make informed health care decisions, including decisions about public health prevention and protection measures
role model and follow public health directives that keep patients and the public safe.
CNO’s practice standards do not apply to all aspects of a nurse’s private life. However, when a nurse communicates with the public and identifies as a nurse, they invoke their professional position as a nurse and are accountable to CNO and the public it protects.
Nurses are expected to adhere to the standards of practice in carrying out their professional responsibilities. Nurses have a professional responsibility to not publicly communicate anti-vaccination, anti-masking and anti-distancing statements that contradict the available scientific evidence. Doing so may result in an investigation by CNO, and disciplinary proceedings when warranted.
© 2021 Canadian Frontline Nurses