Fun in Toronto: My Adventure in Learning about how Nurses Advocate for Laws that Matter to Them

       Earlier this year in February, I had the opportunity to explore Queen's Park day in Toronto and learn above the ways one can advocate for what they believe in and how laws are made. It was an amazing opportunity and I'm going to share my experience in this article.

 Toronto for a Windsorite is kind of a pleasant, but overwhelming shock. From the usual flat plane that we’re used to in Windsor, the downtown in Toronto is enveloped in shadows from the seemingly mile-high buildings. The beautiful architecture and the New-York style billboards are transformative, inspiring every step of your way to your destination. Truly, you feel like anything is possible when you’re surrounded by people on the move and a city that buzzes with activity. 

       Right from the doorstep of my hotel entrance, there is no denying the beauty of the city. On the left side I could see the Eaton Centre and the BT Television Headquarters, brightly lit up by ad boards. Down the street was the magnificently designed  Ryerson Student Centre towering over the sidewalk, rugged in shape, but beautifully modern. 

        In only two days here, I’d walked these streets a dozen times at least and was pleasantly surprised to find myself navigating them like a pro. Thus, on Thursday morning, I left my hotel building with directions in my head rather than on my phone, and a spring in my step, ready to join the morning commute of bustling bodies. The wind was still so the cold was kept at bay, which was great for taking pictures on my phone without the fear of freezing my fingers off. I found myself stopping every few minutes to either marvel at a sight or to take a picture. How did anyone get anywhere in this city?

     Soon I found myself standing in front of the Employment and Social Services building. I realized that I had walked in the completely opposite direction and had unknowingly walked past the Legislative Assembly hall on my trek. 

    TIP: Always find a picture of your destination online as sometimes buildings don’t have numbers on them or signs to indicate their location. It truly helps to know what building you’re going to so that if you’re standing at an intersection not knowing which way to turn, a glance down each street should reveal your location. 

    Glancing at the time on my phone, I made a quick U-turn and speed-walked back the way I had come keenly looking out for 111 Wellesley St. West.

    Today was a big day with a lot of interesting things going on, and I had done a good job of keeping my nervousness at bay, but the prospect of being late was bringing on a feeling of anxiety that I knew I could do without. However, I managed to find the proper building, and sighed in relief, while being handed my visitor’s pass. 

    For those of you who have never had the chance to visit the legislative house, I highly advise going in for a free tour. It is beyond glamorous. Built in the late 1800s, it’s got a masculine architecture, with tall gothic pillars, marble on one side, deep wood on the other end, and fine detailing of eastern style dragons. 

    The day started off with breakfast with an MPP in the parliamentary dining room. Representing Windsor- Tecumseh was the 49th Standing member of Parliament, Percy Hatfield. He sat down to discuss issues that the RNAO advocated for change. We discussed primary issues with RN staffing shortages, Long-term Care issues, and overall advocacy for nursing needs. It was a great way to connect one group with a voice to another group that had a different voice. We were also formulating ideas that would later be presented in the Queen’s Park Day Legislature Question Period. Connecting with your local MPP is a great way to talk about issues that you are passionate about. Not only does it bring to attention the reality of the situation at hand at a personal level for the MPP, but it also allows your voice to be heard and your message to be spread to hundreds of people in power that have the potential to bring about change. Being exposed first hand to RNs and NPs expressing their hopes for change passionately was an amazing eye-opener for me, showing me that there is always room for improvement and that everyone deserves the absolute best care - there is no room for compromise. When things are unfair, or unfit to serve, advocate for change. Be the person that notices. Be the voice that speaks, and above all, be the first domino that elicits a reaction. 

    Departing for break, we enjoyed an hour of the cold frigid breeze as my friends and I spent a good 15 minutes snapping shots outside the legislative building without our jackets, trying to capture the entirety of the building and the flags, while also maneuvering to block the security guard who managed to get into mostly all of our shots. 

    Back inside, we checked in, dropped off our bags, unfortunately, our phones as well, grabbed our access passes and headed up to the Members’ Galleries on the second floor of the parliament building. Though it wasn’t that glamorous, the feeling of structure and importance was prominent. 

    The room itself was beautifully built. The attention to detail was encaptivating - gargoyles and dragons on the walls, the pillars, the magnificent beige, and green drapes! It all kind of transports you back a century. 

    To sit in on a legislative assembly comes with plenty of rules. No talking, no eating, no drinking, no clapping and believe it or not, no reading! I came in feeling overwhelmed with rules, but the atmosphere from the get-go was airy and positive as MPPs and the presenting parties welcomed their fellow opponents and the presiding guests. The Question Period brought up memories of my high school afternoons spent in the debate club. It was interesting to see the dynamics unfold as questions arose. There was a lot of clapping, a lot of overriding, and it was humorous to hear the passive-aggressive answers coated in niceties. All in the name of professionalism, eh? 

    The experience was very insightful because it revealed how laws are born and change is created. It was a first-hand experience of how change is born - from observation to a voice, and eventually to action. Whatever organization or workforce that you are a part of- be it healthcare,  business or education - room for improvement is always an option. If you notice things that need to be improved, contact your local leader or MPP and voice out your opinions and ideas. You’ll be surprised to learn that others feel the same way as you do.