Published: March 15. 2021
Revised: October 13, 2021 
The COVID-19 pandemic has put unprecedented strain on our health system, and registered nurses (RNs)  have been at the forefront of the response for over a year and a half. As public health measures continue to evolve to mitigate the spread and impacts of the virus, it is essential that all RNs understand their professional responsibilities when responding to public health orders or making public statements on this important topic.
Because RNs hold a position of leadership and trust within the health system and the community, any statements RNs make in public forums or on social media have the potential to influence the public and be taken as an expression of professional views or advice .
RNs are expected to practise in accordance to the practice expectations, practice directions, and Code of Ethics. This includes expectations to:
- use the best current and accurate scientific evidence to inform decisions in registered nursing practice, including public advocacy ; and
- to demonstrate professional behaviours and act as a role model in regards to observing public health measures that contribute to public safety ;
The College strongly encourages all RNs to reflect on these and all related professional obligations (including any applicable workplace policies) before engaging in a public forum, and to avoid expressing views that are not supported by evidence such as anti-masking or anti-vaccine viewpoints, or recommending unapproved treatments for COVID-19. All RNs are expected to observe and comply with all applicable public health orders as set forth by the Chief Provincial Public Health Officer, including but not limited to, masking requirements, self-isolation requirements, and vaccination/testing requirements for designated persons.
Regarding COVID-19 Vaccination and Testing Requirements for Designated Persons
All RNs should inform themselves about employer/workplace policies regarding COVID-19 vaccination and testing requirements as well as where and to whom the public health order applies. They should be prepared for individuals, including clients, to inquire about their vaccination/testing status, particularly where they are self-employed, and be prepared to provide information on the applicable policies in place to ensure adequate protections from COVID-19.
Guidance for the public regarding COVID-19 Vaccination and Testing Requirements
The College encourages members of the public to review the public health order  as vaccination and testing requirements may vary by health care setting. Members of the public should feel empowered to advocate for their care, including asking the facility or health care provider about their policies regarding vaccination/testing for RNs.
Maintaining dialogue, professional conduct, and compliance with public health orders
It is possible to encourage dialogue or suggest improvements to the current pandemic response without contributing to the distribution of scientifically unreliable or inaccurate information that is harmful to the public interest . Any reports of such conduct, or reports of an RN violating an applicable public health order that are brought to the College’s attention may be subject to further investigation or steps to ensure accountability.
Resources for RNs
- College of Registered Nurses of Manitoba:
- Canadian Nurses Association: Code of Ethics (2017)
- Government of Manitoba: State of Emergency and Current Public Health Orders
- Shared Health Manitoba:
- Public Health Agency of Canada: COVID-19 Vaccination Tool Kit for Health Care Providers
- World Health Organization: How to report misinformation online
- College of Registered Nurses of Manitoba: Pause Before You Post: Social Media Awareness
Resources for the public
- Shared Health Manitoba:
- Government of Manitoba:
- Government of Canada: Vaccines for COVID-19
 Government of Manitoba News Release: COVID-19 Testing or Vaccination Requirements in Manitoba Public Sector to Begin Oct. 18
 RNs may wish to refer to the practice resource, Registered Nurse Responsibilities to Professional Practice Issues for support in providing leadership in the identification and resolution of professional practice issues.