Nurses urge Toronto Mayor to put public health and well-being ahead of ideology
TORONTO, July 8, 2011 – Ontario nurses are urging Toronto councillors to put health and patient outcomes ahead of ideology, and accept the province’s offer to pay for two public health nurses.
Last week, more than 2,000 nurses wrote letters to Toronto Mayor Rob Ford and city councillors, asking them to reconsider the indefinite deferral of discussions on the issue, and to put public health back on the agenda. Thanks, in part, to that pressure, several city councillors will introduce a motion to reopen the issue at next week's city council meeting. The offer to hire the nurses, which came with $170,000 in provincial funding, was refused by the city’s executive committee June 20 on the basis that "…we have enough people in public health right now."
In his response to the thousands of nurses who contacted him, Ford wrote: “Toronto is in the midst of a core service review. Now is not the time to add new permanent staff. Other departments have been asked to defer non-essential hiring until after the service reviews. Toronto Public Health is expected to do the same.”
In just one example of the kind of anger Ford’s decision has generated among nurses, Toronto RN Lisa McCaskell wrote to the Mayor that investments in public health and prevention services result in cost savings elsewhere. “Increased efforts and expenditures in vaccination campaigns will result in fewer acute illnesses,” she wrote. “Increased public health efforts around newborn care will result in fewer visits to the doctor or emergency wards.” McCaskell went on to say that
“…healthier communities and healthier citizens are the result of public health efforts,” adding these services are “not a frill.”
“Every day, public health nurses are at the forefront of health protection and promotion, disease and injury prevention, reducing health inequities, and reducing the costs to taxpayers of a health and social system too often focused on illness rather than well-being,” says David McNeil, President of the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO).
According to Toronto Public Health, one of the nurses would have worked on disease prevention with recent immigrants while the second would have worked in health promotion in one of the city’s poorest neighbourhoods. These nurses, McNeil says, play an important role in reducing chronic health problems through appropriate preventive care, which has the potential to help control hospital, home care and long-term care costs.
The Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario is the professional association representing registered nurses in Ontario. Since 1925, RNAO has advocated 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.
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