Did Ontario really need to call in the military for COVID-19 in

Other calls have been directed at nursing students, who are eligible to be personal support workers (PSWs) after a year of nursing school. PSWs make up a significant portion of the workforce in long-term care.

The RNAO started recruiting nurses, nurse practitioners and nursing student PSWs on March 13, launching a program called VIANurse to match staff with facilities in need of help. Grinspun said she told Ministry of Health officials about the program before it launched, and is in contact with them about pandemic response on a daily basis.

The Ontario government launched its own[1] health-care worker recruitment portal on April 7, over three weeks after the rollout of VIANurse. But the province did not ask to mobilize the thousands of nurses who had already volunteered to help through the RNAO ⁠— including about 200 who specifically put their hands up for long-term care ⁠— until three days before Ford’s April 22 call for military aid.

“I’ve never been reluctant to call for help,” the premier said in a press conference that day. “As we need more resources, we’re bringing more resources in.”

Health officials later said 250 Canadian Armed Forces personnel, in teams led by army nurses, would move in to help five hard-hit nursing homes. The teams would also include medics and other personnel to help with general tasks, officials said.

Grinspun said the workers on the RNAO’s list would be better suited for the job than army medics, as caring for seniors requires specialized knowledge ⁠— something she would have told provincial officials if they had asked. And more help would have been available through the RNAO’s list of nursing students who could work as PSWs, she added.

“I don’t know if they considered this before they called the army,” Grinspun said.

When a reporter asked the premier last Thursday whether the province had considered deploying RNAO resources before calling for military aid, Ford urged any available nurses to get in touch.

“If they contact us, they’ll be in a home immediately,” he added.

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