OTTAWA -- Long before the COVID-19 pandemic, the World Health Organization had designated 2020 the year of the Nurse.  However, no one could have foreseen the critical role they would play this year in the testing, treatment and containment of the virus.

Across Canada, nurses are on the frontlines of hospitals and testing centres, and are desperately needed to give support to a strained and exhausted health care system.

Nurses, we need you,” said Ottawa’s Medical Officer of Health Dr. Vera Etches during a phone interview with CTV News Ottawa. “We need everybody. We need everyone who works in a health care facility to be well.”

Thousands of former health care workers across the country, many of them nurses, are answering the call to take a leave from their retirements to return to the job to help during COVID-19. 

The need is widespread and urgent. The Renfrew County and District Health Unit is urgently seeking casual public health nurses.  A recent job posting asks nurses “to support health promotion and protection activities throughout various public health programs--including COVID-19.

Recognizing that strategies to contain COVID-19 are rapidly changing, the College of Nurses of Ontario is also working to support Ontario’s health care system during this unprecedented situation.  It is helping retired or unregistered nurses who are interested in returning to the workplace.

A post on its website states “in an effort to enhance nursing resources across the province, CNO is developing processes to expedite registration for non-practicing nurses who wish to be reinstated in the general class.”

According to the CNO, those interested in having their registrations reinstated must have practiced nursing in the last 3 years.  They will have to pay upfront to expedite the process, but the CNO says it will reimburse them.  To request reinstatement, visit the CNO’s website.