Politicians to get up-close view of health-care through RNs' eyes during Nursing Week
TORONTO, May 9, 2008 – What does it take to be a nurse? Next week, more than 20 politicians around Ontario will visit hospitals, public health units, long-term care facilities and people at home to find out.
The politicians are participating in the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario’s Take Your MPP/MP to Work initiative. The event, now in its eighth year, gives politicians the chance to see the realities of front-line health care, and how nurses’ knowledge and experience affects countless lives in Ontario. Politicians will see how public health nurses are building healthy communities; how nurses in long-term care facilities are improving their residents’ quality of life; what RNs in hospitals are doing each day to help those struggling with acute illnesses; and how nurses are able to provide care so that patients can remain at home with their loved ones.
RNAO President Wendy Fucile has hosted politicians on several occasions and knows the value of the event. “The opportunity to allow elected officials to see nursing through the eyes of an RN is priceless,” she says, adding visits also give politicians an up-close view of why it’s so important to strengthen Ontario’s not-for-profit health care system, and support nurses working at the heart of it.
As the nursing workforce ages, Fucile says these visits provide RNs with another chance to urge governments to move quickly on solutions that will draw more people into the profession. That includes targeted funding to employ 9,000 additional nurses in Ontario, and to reach the provincial government’s promise of 70 per cent full-time employment for all nurses. “Having additional nurses, and providing more RNs with full-time work, is essential to ensure continuity of caregiver and safe care for the people of this province,” Fucile adds.
RNAO Executive Director Doris Grinspun says the event also allows politicians to see the breadth of what nurses are doing across the province. “Whether in emergency rooms, critical care, rehabilitation or palliative care, Ontario’s politicians will see the difference nurses’ knowledge and compassion are making in the lives of children, adolescents, adults and older people,” she says. In fact, Grinspun adds, Premier Dalton McGuinty had the chance to observe those lessons last month, when he visited Canada’s first nurse practitioner-led clinic in Sudbury, and saw how nurse practitioners there are providing primary care to more than a thousand people who otherwise had none.
“Nursing Week provides an important forum to remind politicians how nurses help people remain healthy, and get access to timely, high quality health services when they need them,” Grinspun says.
Highlights of Take Your MPP to Work include:
- On April 10, Premier Dalton McGuinty visited the Sudbury District Nurse Practitioner Clinics.
- On May 13, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care George Smitherman will join RNAO President Wendy Fucile at Trent University where he will learn about nursing education and join students learning more about nursing as a career.
- PC Party Leader John Tory will visit Princess Margaret Hospital with RNAO board member Catherine Mayers during the morning of May 12.
- NDP Leader Howard Hampton will visit Scarborough General with RNAO Executive Director Doris Grinspun on May 13 at 3:30 p.m.
- NDP Health Critic France Gelinas will be making several visits with RNAO members in her Nickel Belt riding.
Highlights of Take Your MP to Work include:
- Federal Minister of Health and MP for Parry Sound-Muskoka, Tony Clement, will join nurses celebrating the grand opening of the Ruth Dare Health Clinic in Rousseau on May 17.
- Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion will visit a public health unit in Ottawa with RNAO board member Nancy Watters on May 16.
- Federal NDP Leader Jack Layton will tour needle exchange, TB and sexually transmitted infections clinics operated by Toronto Public Health on May 16 between 9 a.m. - 11 a.m.
In addition, several provincial Liberal cabinet ministers are participating:
- Rick Bartolucci, Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services, will accompany RNAO board member David McNeil on a visit in Sudbury.
- Minister of Culture and Minister Responsible for Seniors Aileen Carroll will join Saint Elizabeth Health Care home care nurses in Simcoe County on May 16 at 11:30 a.m.
- Leona Dombrowsky, Minister of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs, will join local RNAO member Elizabeth Edwards in RNAO’s Quinte Chapter.
- On May 14, Minister of Tourism Peter Fonseca will accompany nurses at Trillium Health Centre in Mississauga.
- On May 16, between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m., Environment Minister John Gerretsen will visit Providence Continuing Care.
- Monique Smith, Minister of Revenue, will accompany a community nurse with VON on a visit in North Bay.
More than 20 other politicians – including local, provincial and federal – are also participating in the event. A complete list of all the politician’s visits can be found on RNAO’s website: www.rnao.ca
RNAO is the professional association representing registered nurses wherever they practise in Ontario. Since 1925, RNAO has lobbied for healthy public policy, promoted excellence in nursing practice, increased nurses’ contribution to shaping the health-care system, and influenced decisions that affect nurses and the public they serve.