May 2017

RPN Innovation Fund 

In 2006, the Government of Ontario created the Nursing Retention Fund (NRF) to help nurses with education and training needs resulting from workforce transitions in public hospitals. Unused monies from the NRF were held in trust for a period of time and this past year, in accordance with the terms of the trust the residual funds were distributed to nursing professional associations.  The RPNAO received some of the residual trust funds and has used these to establish the RPN Innovation Fund. This fund provides a new opportunity to make investments in the development of RPNs to support them to meet the emerging needs of patients and our system. 

What is innovation?  Simply stated, it is the development and introduction of something new; something that is a significant improvement.  Innovation isn’t about doing the same thing over again.   It is about change, development and growth.  It’s about unleashing potential.  Innovating is a highly creative process and requires that we engage in “blue sky thinking”, or in other words generating ideas that aren’t bound by current thinking or beliefs.  How exciting is that?!  RPNAO envisions using the RPN Innovation Fund to lead the way to the optimization of the RPN role in our health care system now and into the next decade.

Exactly how that is to be done is yet to be determined, and we need you to help us put the plan in place.  In the coming year, the RPN Innovation Fund program will be developed with input from RPNAO members and other RPNs across the province, employers of RPNs and other key stakeholders such as health planners, public health professionals and academic partners.  As part of this process, RPNAO has hired Barbara Jones as Director, Nursing Innovation to develop and administer the RPN Innovation Fund program.  Barb can be reached by email at or by phone (905) 602-4664/1-877-602-4664 extension 253.

Barb has just completed a 20-stop tour of the province, engaging with RPNs and other healthcare stakeholders about their ideas and perspectives of how RPNAO can best use the Innovation Fund to optimize the role of the RPN to meet the emerging needs of patients, families and communities moving into the next decade.  We have conducted some preliminary analysis of the data collected and have created an online survey to further explore the themes, expectations and ideas that have emerged.  The survey will take about 10-20 minutes to complete.  You can take it whether or not you attended one of the Tour sessions and whether you are a RPN or another healthcare stakeholder.  Your input is valuable to us and will help to shape how RPNAO supports and advances the nursing profession today and in the future.

As is our usual practice, RPNAO is committed to transparent accountability to our members in terms of how this fund is being used. Updates on the development of the RPN Innovation Fund program will be provided to members on an ongoing basis and a report on the work of the fund will be included in our next and subsequent Annual Reports.