Nurses head to Queen's Park to shape health policy
TORONTO, Jan. 21, 2009 – As MPPs prepare for a new session of business, 130 registered nurses and nursing students - representing the leadership of RNAO - are heading to Queen’s Park tomorrow to influence and shape policies that affect the health of people across Ontario.
“The health of our economy is getting a lot of publicity these days, but it’s worth remembering that social programs, including a strong health-care system that takes care of people’s needs, also makes good economic sense. Our job is to remind politicians of this fact,” says Wendy Fucile, President of the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO), which is organizing the visit to the legislature.
Fucile says RNAO applauds the McGuinty government for making poverty reduction a central focus for its second mandate with the release of its poverty reduction strategy in December. Now, she says, it’s time to make the ideas outlined in that document a reality. “We want the upcoming provincial budget to have dedicated funding to move the province from strategy to programs so that steps are taken to alleviate the suffering of more than 320,000 children living in poverty in Ontario,” she says.
Fucile says nurses will also tell the politicians they are meeting on Thursday (January 22) that they expect regulations governing the use of pesticides, including an extensive list of banned pesticide ingredients, to come into effect this spring. “Premier McGuinty has an opportunity to show bold leadership by protecting Ontarians,” she adds.
The association’s 10th Annual Day at Queen’s Park is open to members of the media, and provides a powerful opportunity for nurses to bring critical issues affecting the profession and the public they serve directly to the government.
RNAO’s Executive Director Doris Grinspun says the association is pleased that the government is continuing to fund the Nursing Graduate Guarantee. The success of the program has convinced new nursing graduates to stay in Ontario. However, says Grinspun, “all registered nurses must be assured that they won’t be used – once again - as pawns in a bid to cut budgets.” RNAO expects the McGuinty government to get back on track and fund the 9,000 additional nursing positions it committed to during its second mandate. “The care nurses provide to patients is essential to their health, and the musings of the Premier about delaying the funding is damaging to the public and the health system,” Grinspun adds.
While RNAO is thankful the government is moving ahead with nurse practitioner-led clinics, nurses will ask the Premier and Minister Caplan to accelerate funding for additional clinics. “Tens of thousands of people across the province do not have access to a health-care provider. Without that access, people with health problems go undiagnosed and that leads to personal suffering and increased costs for the system down the road,” Grinspun says. “We’re looking to the McGuinty government to fund, in this year’s budget, 10 additional nurse practitioner-led clinics so that they can open their doors to the public in 2009.”
Nurses will also voice their concerns about competitive bidding of home care services, a practice reinstated by Minister Caplan this past December, and funding public hospitals using public-private-partnerships (P3s). “We will, once again, present solid arguments against competitive bidding and P3s because neither strategy is cost effective or good for safe patient care,” says Grinspun.
After hearing speeches from the Minister of Health, the leader and health critic of the Progressive Conservative Party, and the New Democratic Party’s health critic, RNs and nursing students will meet with 40 additional MPPs in small group sessions to talk about issues relevant to their regions.
• RNAO President Wendy Fucile and Executive Director Doris Grinspun
• More than 130 RNs and nursing students
• Hon. David Caplan, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, will speak at 9 a.m.
• John Tory, Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party, and Health Critic Elizabeth Witmer, will speak at 10:15 a.m.
• France Gelinas, New Democratic Party Health Critic will speak at 11:30 a.m.
• More than 40 other MPPs will meet with nurse leaders in the afternoon
• RNAO’s 10th Annual Lobby Day at Queen’s Park
• Thursday, Jan. 22, 8:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
• Queen’s Park, Main Legislative Building, Committee Room 228
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-
For more information:
Marion Zych, Director of Communications
Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario