Registed Nurses' Association of Ontario

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Nurses advocate for affordable housing

RNAO believes housing is a basic human right and vital when it comes to maintaining good health.
This is why the association has focused part of its advocacy on ensuring every Ontarian has access to affordable living space.

It’s been estimated that over 140,000 households across the province were on municipal wait lists for assisted housing in 2010. The number of those without a home – and not on a wait list – is less definitive, but it’s safe to say thousands of people across the country live on the streets.

RNAO knows that affordable living space is a critical need, as it is a contributing factor in mitigating the devastating effects of poverty. People living without adequate shelter fall prey to a number of health concerns, such as premature death, tuberculosis, skin and foot issues and seizures.

Over the course of countless federal and provincial election campaigns, RNAO has raised the issue of affordable housing, keeping the topic high on the radar of political leaders. The association has churned out policy statements, submissions (on, for example, Ontario’s Poverty Reduction Strategy), briefing notes and letters to the Prime Minister dedicated to raising awareness and providing suggested solutions.

Most notable about this ongoing problem is the fact that our country lacks a national housing strategy. RNAO has argued this is something Canada must develop. Without any kind of foundation or federal leadership, the sweeping issue of housing will continue to be dealt with in fragments, the association believes.

Provincially, RNAO has urged the government to make investments in both the construction and upkeep of affordable housing units, provide rent supplements, and invest in supportive housing for individuals with physical, cognitive and/or mental health needs. Doing so will help those who are in desperate need of housing. These investments will also help our health-care system, which often bears the brunt of those who are in poor health because they are not able to live with a permanent roof over their heads.

The association’s perseverance on this issue – both at the federal and provincial levels – will not cease until action is taken that better supports and strengthens this right.

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