As the days drew closer to the Canadian Nurses Association (CNA) Annual General Meeting in Ottawa, the anticipation was palpable. The annual meeting is a signature event where Registered Nurse representatives from across the country come together to discuss and make important decisions on historic policy and advocacy issues for Canadian Nursing.
The B.C. delegation had prepared for the discussion through readings, tele–briefings, CNA webcasts, and engaging in a caucus on the morning before the AGM began.
There were big ticket items on the 2013 AGM agenda – CNA governance structure, letters patent and bylaws related to members, electronic voting, and the role of jurisdictional advisors. Dr. Barb Mildon, CNA President, began the AGM by identifying the examples of how CNA strives to be effective, efficient and relevant. Rachel Bard, CNA CEO, followed and described examples of how CNA exemplifies its advocacy mandate. The financial report showed a positive outlook and the motion to accept the report was carried.
Changes to the CNA governance structure were among the first four areas of voting provided. Theywere described as “bones” to build further governance details over the next year that will ensurecompliance with the new federal Not-for-Profit Act as well as to innovate based on best practices. Admittedly, these discussions were complex as the assembly analyzed different models “in the movement”. Discussion during the meeting revealed tensions around suggested changes to member weighted votes and inclusion of RPNs and LPNs. B.C. nurses were in the thick of the discussion, speaking at the microphone, moving motions, asking probing questions and articulating the beliefs that best represent nursing in our province. Ultimately, it was decided that the Canadian Nursing Students’ Association, as well as retired and independent nurses should be included. The CNA board and the governance committee will consider the impact of the "will of the members" on future governance models and bylaws. Jurisdictions will continue to have an opportunity to engage in new model development and voting details.
Unfortunately the resolutions submitted from across the country were not discussed due to time constraints and therefore were tabled to the Board for consideration and action. Rachel Bard briefly described the actions undertaken to move forward with the recommendations from the National Expert Commission. Dr. Barb Mildon encouraged nurses to join the AGM event next year in Manitoba for the Biennium to help the College of Registered Nurses of Manitoba (CRNM) celebrate its 100 year anniversary. B.C. nurses can relate to the special significance of this anniversary as CRNM works with the government to enact their new health professions act legislation.
Reflecting on this full day there are a few themes that come to mind: a strengthened belief in the critical importance of dialogue on nursing issues; a thankfulness in the courage of the nurses (and student nurses) across the country who articulate their beliefs, knowledge and actions; an awareness that innovation is necessary to catapult the profession and our nursing support structures into the 21st century; and a validation of the importance of vision and mission of ARNBC.
It was a privilege to be part of the event and to engage with the nurses from B.C. in this experience. I look forward to representing ARNBC on the CNA Board over the next two years.
Julie Fraser, RN, is a Clinical Nurse Specialist in the area of Home Care. She has been a registered nurse for more than 15 years and has practiced in a number of different settings from residential care to acute medical and surgical care units, before focusing on community nursing, working in both clinical and educator roles.