Reports from president and CEO
During her opening remarks, CNA president Barb Shellian described her experience at a recent forum on the opioid crisis in British Columbia. She said it was particularly enlightening to spend time with nurses working in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. Shellian spent an afternoon with one home care nurse whose office was a backpack and whose patients call the streets their home. She said joining this nurse as she treated people in some of the city’s alleyways gave her the chance to fully experience the “essence” of nursing on a new level.
Shellian went on to convey her concern that CNA’s letter to the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) — sent in December on issues related to the NCLEX -RN entry-to-practice exam for francophone students — had not received a response.
Finally, Shellian said she appreciated the opportunity to host a press conference on Parliament Hill on the topic of home care, where she focused on CNA’s position that investments in home care remain critical. Other highlights of the press conference include re-confirming CNA’s support for agreements to accelerate investment in family caregivers as well as continued calls for a new national health accord that includes funding for home care and accountability measures.
CEO Anne Sutherland Boal and staff gave an update on CNA operations, highlighting the association’s recent documents on medical assistance in dying, medical cannabis and Choosing Wisely Canada. Board members got a sneak peek at this year’s National Nursing Week posters, with the theme #YESThisIsNursing. The board also received an update on CNA’s plans for Canada’s 150th birthday, including a special tribute to 150 Canadian nurses.
The board approved a revised position statement, Nursing Informatics, written jointly with the Canadian Nursing Informatics Association. Board members had a discussion on the role of technology in patient care, citing reports supporting the argument that technology can never replace the one-on-one interaction that nurses have with their patients. The position statement will be made available on our website soon.
CNA staff presented a new, evidence-based process for conducting the CNA environmental scan. The new process is more dynamic and consultative, with four cycles per year. This allows CNA to be more forward-looking and proactive in response to significant emerging trends that have implications for CNA. The process involves greater in-house data collection and more active dialogue with the board, the jurisdictions and the Canadian Network of Nursing Specialties. The board then engaged in the new process by having an in-depth discussion on three emerging trends that have potential implications for the organization: technology in health care, Indigenous health, and global health. Extensive input was collected on these topics to inform CNA’s policy directions.
Governance review and bylaw changes
The board approved the motion to make the next public representative a person with an Indigenous background, viewing it as an excellent step to ensuring this important perspective is included in board discussions.
The board also approved a motion to amend CNA’s bylaws to add two independent board members to represent Ontario and Quebec. This bylaw decision will be brought forward for a vote at this June’s annual meeting of members.
Presentations to the board
Board members enjoyed several engaging and informative presentations on a wide range of topics:
- National Nursing Assessment Service (NNAS) — Lynn Power, executive director of the Association of Registered Nurses of Newfoundland and Labrador and chair of NNAS, provided an update on NNAS’s second year activities. The goal of this relatively new organization is to help standardize the assessment process for the thousands of internationally educated nurses who apply to work in Canada every year.
- Global Association of Student and Novice Nurses — Co-founders Paisly Symenuk and Jessinta Kyra Philbert shared their passionate story of how they formed their group last year to provide a “unified voice” for student and novice nurses globally. They’ve enjoyed great success so far, including a peer mentorship program that has attracted over 70 applicants from around the world.
- Federal budget primer — Canadian Press reporter Stephanie Levitz gave an enlightening presentation on the federal budget process, explaining both what budgets are and what they are not (hint: it’s not always about money). She said the federal budget is important because it clearly shows which initiatives the government will support or continue to support in the coming year. She encouraged CNA to take a long-term approach in planning its strategies for influencing federal spending, as it can take several years to impact government spending policy. Levitz also counselled board members that when reviewing the budget, they should take the time to differentiate between new funding announcements and previous funding that the government is reaffirming.
- Social media primer — CNA’s Kevin Ménard offered an overview on how to use Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn. He provided examples of best practices for each platform to effectively and inexpensively reach members and a broader audience.
Presentation on medical cannabis: what nurses need to know
This engaging and interactive session on medical cannabis featured presentations from three prominent experts in the field: Lynda Balneaves, an associate nursing professor at the University of Manitoba, who has extensive work experience with oncology patients; Dr. Mark Ware of McGill University, a world-renowned pain specialist and medical cannabis researcher; and Eileen Konieczny, an American registered nurse and president of the American Cannabis Nurses Association.
- Balneaves provided information on some of the science behind medical cannabis and described how it has been safely used for centuries. She suggested potential roles for nurse practitioners could include authorizing the use of medical cannabis and monitoring patient results.
- Ware, vice-chair of a federal task force on legalizing cannabis, focused on the changing legislative landscape, saying that Canada could be a global leader in the push to expand use of the substance for medical purposes. He acknowledged that better research on the long-term effects of cannabis use is required.
- Konieczny described some of her extensive experience, calling the fact that many patients turn to outside sources for information on cannabis use a “lost opportunity” for medical practitioners to offer their expertise and help patients.
- CNA president Barb Shellian wrapped up the presentation by asking what role CNA can play in medical cannabis use. In the discussion that followed, she suggested that CNA’s biggest roles could be around addressing the stigma of cannabis use, educating nurses so they could advocate on behalf of patients, and supporting hospitals and other health organizations to develop evidence informed policies.
The board confirmed the appointment of a new CEO. The following week, on March 29, it announced the selection of Mike Villeneuve, RN, M.Sc., to the position of CEO effective June 1, 2017.
Villeneuve will replace Anne Sutherland Boal as she retires from CNA after seven years of service. When announcing that it made a selection, the board thanked her for being a strong, collaborative and engaged leader who made a significant contribution to the nursing profession.