When COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic on March 11, 2020, many organizations and individuals had to make quick decisions under circumstances that have never existed before. As a nursing regulator, our purpose to protect the public by promoting safe nursing practice began to unfold in new ways as the system mobilized to respond to the pandemic.
For the safety of staff and the public, we closed our office building as soon as Ontario declared a state of emergency on March 17, and staff began working from home. We already had an established teleworking environment and a pandemic plan, so this move was relatively seamless.
For application processes that relied on mail delivery, we quickly implemented online solutions, such as online forms, electronic faxing and we encouraged people to send us documents by email instead of paper mail.
Knowing this global pandemic could increase the demand for nursing care, we immediately began inviting recently resigned and eligible Non-Practising class nurses to reinstate their registration with CNO. We quickly made upgrades to our online application portal to allow these nurses to bypass payment, because we waived the reinstatement fee during the emergency.
We also began planning for a solution that would allow us to quickly and safely register a wider range of qualified nurses to support Ontario’s health care system. The answer was enacting the Emergency Assignment Class (EAC), a special class of registration designed under legislation to expedite short term registration of nurses during an unprecedented crisis, such as a pandemic.
For the first time ever, we enacted the EAC on March 23, 2020 for the sole purpose of allowing qualified nurses to help during the pandemic. This included ...