Provincial budget must invest in health care and nursing
RNAO tells Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs
TORONTO, Feb. 11, 2004 – The Liberal government’s first provincial budget must deliver on its promise of change by investing in essential social services, rolling back tax cuts, eliminating public-private partnerships (P3s) and for-profit MRI/CT scan clinics, and meeting campaign promises to create 8,000 more nursing positions with 70 per cent of all registered nurses working full time, the Registered Nurses Association of Ontario (RNAO) told the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs today.
“Ontario is the second richest province in the country, but we spend less on health care than any other province,” said RNAO president Adeline Falk-Rafael. “It is critical that the Liberal government’s first provincial budget sends a clear signal to Ontarians that the province is on the road to recovery.”
RNAO executive director Doris Grinspun added that Premier McGuinty and his government received a mandate to rebuild health and social services when they were elected last October. “There is no need of further consultation,” Grinspun said. “While we are encouraged by the government’s laudable first steps to endorse the Health Council of Canada and its intent to form its own Health Quality Council, the premier must deliver on his campaign promises to stop privatization and sustain the nursing profession.”
“Ontario is poised to lose 6,000 RNs to retirement or death in 2004,” said Falk-Rafael.
“We must immediately create many more opportunities for full-time nursing employment to prevent the drain of hundreds of new graduates to the U.S. Ontario cannot afford to lose a single new graduate.”
Falk-Rafael added, “Ontario has the worst nurse to population ratio in the country with only 65 registered nurses per 10,000 population. Nurses are at the breaking point, working short-staffed and working excessive amounts of overtime.”
“The budget will be a clear expression of where the new government is heading. Each financial allocation, or lack of, will define economic, social, health and nursing policy choices that will determine the province’s future,” said Grinspun. “RNAO’s first commitment is to Ontarians, and the association intends to influence government decisions to repair the social safety net and restore public trust in health and social services.”
Some of the expanded services and solutions that RNAO will be looking for when the provincial budget is brought down include:
Deliver on the promised $5.9 billion to rebuild public services, and endeavour to meet the actual service gap that evolved since 1995 by finding the resources to cover the entire gap.
Roll back irresponsible tax cuts to create revenue for reinvestments.
Commit to a ban on further P3s, and investigate whether maintaining existing P3s is in the best interest of Ontarians. Subject all existing P3s to thorough value-for-money audits.
Act on the election promise to develop a senior’s framework, including a senior’s health strategy.
Work with the federal government to strengthen public health as recommended by the Naylor report. And ensure that each public health unit has an RN in a senior administrative position to provide the necessary leadership to programs and staff.
Continue to strongly support the new Health Council of Canada, and move to implement the Ontario Health Quality Council, ensuring that it is adequately resourced and independent of government and its agencies. In addition, we ask that an independent Community Health Advisory be created to work with the government to support decision-making and strengthen health policy in the community health sector.
Immediately act on the campaign promise to create 8,000 more nursing positions, including 250 new nurse practitioner positions in 2004.
Urgently implement the campaign promise to ensure 70 per cent of RNs work full time. As a first step, immediately create a transitional fund to bridge 2,000 graduating RNs to full-time employment. RNAO recommends an investment of $50 million in 2004-05.
Adjust all relevant funding formulas to support clinical placement of nursing students, and to improve infrastructure for incoming students.
Visit www.rnao.ca to read RNAO’s pre-budget submission to the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs.
RNAO executive director Doris Grinspun, RN, MSN, PhD (cand.)
RNAO presents pre-budget submission to Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs
Wednesday, Feb. 11, 2004, 2:30 p.m. to 2:50 p.m.
Committee Room 228, Main Legislative Building, Queen’s Park
The Registered Nurses Association of Ontario (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.-30-