Canadian Nursing Association Resolution to Promote Science Based Nursing and Autonomy Fails

Hi all,

To publicize the fact that nurses are losing professional ground to magical healthcare practitioners here in BC, and that since 2009 nurses have been legally required to take orders from naturopaths, I submitted a resolution to the Canadian Nurses Association as an individual member to protect the autonomy of nursing in future.

I had previously raised this issue with the CRNBC and also with the ARNBC but neither were interested in pursuing it, (CRNBC is solely focused on regulation rather than looking out for the profession now) and it probably isn’t a key priority for ARNBC at the moment due to the ongoing legal battle with the BCNU.

The resolution simply suggested that the CNA advocate that registered nurses (RNs) in Canada not be subject to legislation that requires them to take direction/orders from other health care professions that do not have a superior level of both academic and clinical preparation (that must include Canadian publicly accredited university graduate level academic qualifications, and substantial hospital-based education and training in their field).The full resolution is available here.

This was considered at today’s annual meeting, and after a short debate (4 mins and 35 seconds) it was narrowly rejected by the members. I am not particularly surprised, but am rather saddened that the profession has not taken a simple action that would help strengthen the professional status of nursing in Canada, and protect nurses from further professional exploitation.

The arguments that went against it were mainly from BC (no surprise there) and were:

  1. It isn’t a problem as nurses can always refuse to act against orders given, and
  2. Strong language about using “Canadian” accredited qualifications and “superior levels of qualification” does not recognize the autonomy of other professions and international qualifications.


  • Yes: 77
  • No: 78
  • Abstain: 0

The point about international qualifications is reasonable. and could easily be included with an amendment such as “or equivalent” but the spirit of the resolution was clear enough, so a shame it didn’t pass with an amendment. Got support from the North West Territories though (yea, go NWT)!

Nurses continue to be at the mercy of political trends that leave new CAM practitioners who gain regulatory status the ability to identify themselves as better qualified than nurses though quackademic credentials. So, far from moving away from the role of “physicians handmaidens” and promoting advanced practice and professional autonomy nurses will continue to be seen as fair game in the Canadian healthcare system to become subservient to any complementary and alternative practitioners who care to call themselves “doctorally prepared” (through whatever means or credential).

So I guess I am to tell my students, you are “autonomous practitioners” in theory, but in the healthcare system at large you are recognized as subservient to anyone who holds a piece of paper that is recognized by the provincial government as some sort of health professional and wants to employ you. It is rather hard to promote a positive role for nursing when practitioners who actually practice magical healthcare and have US based quackademic qualifications are regulated above Canadian nurses. Maybe I’ll get ahead of the game and just set up a course in magical healthcare for nurses for our next undergraduate curriculum revision.

Sad times indeed, and I do wonder what the status of the RN will actually become over the next few years. Looks like reversion to a technical role in support of other health professionals is well on the cards, with the odd restricted role for specialist advanced practice (where the system is under-resourced). So, what happened to the CNAs stated aim to “strengthen nursing and the Canadian health system?”




7 thoughts on “Canadian Nursing Association Resolution to Promote Science Based Nursing and Autonomy Fails

  1. Hello Bernie,
    I am a recently retired RN. Thanks. My entire practice was based on science and I am appalled at the magical thinking in my professional world including among nurses. Last year I wrote a letter to Canadian Nurse about vaccines in repsonse to an RN suggesting homeopatic garbage could be researched as part of evlauting vaccines .
    I am not willing to take on such fights any more but I wish to luck in your fights.
    Wendy Williams MSc, BN , RN (until Feb 2016)

  2. Hi Bernie
    Great article and I agree totally with you. Where is healthcare going with all these charlatans being given prescribing authorities and practicing medicine ! It is scary to say the least. All is politicized and politicans all bend at public pressure. We are putting aside Science for pure fiction.
    Keep up the good work !
    BSc, BEd, BPharm, ACPR

  3. Thanks folks, much appreciated, and season’s greetings!

    Yes indeed, all rather discouraging, but I am thinking of submitting an amended version this year. The latest craze for naturopaths its seems, is mega-doses of IV vitamins (very natural or course). This is another highly questionable practice (with very poor scientific rationale), and who would want an IV put in and administered by someone with no hospital or acute care experience? This seems like healthcare legislation that does not protect the public. Barking mad!


  4. I’m more concerned with RN’s using their title to promote their woo of choice than I am with receiving orders, which if an RN refused, as is our right could make for an interesting legal battle. I hesitate and fear what a google search of would reveal. Sad but other professionals have the same challenges.

  5. Yes, a good point and definitely a concern, and I attempted to challenge that with our nursing regulator here in BC a couple of years back. See

    The CRNBC’s position is quite clear and sadly Nurses’s here are licenced to practice magic or even sell magical therapies using their RN title. In a recent email I got from a CRNBC practice advisor this year they were unequivocal in stating “Therapeutic Touch is within the realm of nursing practice.”

    Frankly, I am puzzled how this fits with their role in protecting the public, as you can set up a nonsense woo business using your RN title and and rip-off people with impunity, but there you go this is the West coast, and pretty much anything goes :-(.

  6. Wow I hadn’t realized it’s that bad, this is a scandal and I’m glad you’re standing up to it. Nursing suffers a big disconnect between theory and practice so I’ve tended to not pay too much attention to the association or academia. Where I work, advanced practice in small communities I and many of my colleagues feel not even understood much less supported and yet they waste their time yakking on about woo this and that.
    Looks likes you and this blog is an exception to that so i’m delighted to have found it.
    cheers St

  7. Great to see a few new posts, happy I checked in today. Well, happy and frustrated. I don’t have much else to add that hasn’t already been said. Thank you Bernie for fighting this good fight. I know it must be challenging in BC.

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