Registed Nurses' Association of Ontario

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RNAO asks nurses and the public to think twice before casting your vote on Jan. 23: Medicare is at risk

2006-01-17

TORONTO, Jan. 17, 2006 – The Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO) is deeply concerned about the future of Medicare and the potential for the federal election results to endanger Canada’s most cherished social program.

With just days remaining before the vote, the association released today its analysis of the health platforms of the four major national political parties. “We are asking nurses and urging the public to review and reflect on this comparison before casting their vote on January 23rd,” said Joan Lesmond, RNAO’s president.

“In poll after poll, Canadians, including nurses, consistently rank health care as their top priority. Yet, in this campaign, the political leaders have downplayed our health-care system challenges and the solutions they propose,” Lesmond added.

“This is alarming, especially in light of last summer’s Supreme Court ruling. Whichever party forms the next government will make critical decisions that will have a profound impact on the future of Medicare. Voting for a party committed to protecting and strengthening Medicare is akin to protecting Canadians and strengthening Canada,” Lesmond said.

All political parties say their policies will improve the health-care system. But, only one, the Conservative Party of Canada, will direct public funds toward a parallel, private health-care system to meet wait time promises. RNAO warns the public that further expansion of for-profit health-care delivery will weaken Medicare. “We reject the argument that for-profit delivery is the remedy that will cure what ails Medicare,” said RNAO executive director Doris Grinspun.

“Instead, we need to strengthen not-for-profit care in all areas – from community care, to hospital care and long-term care. It is more nurses, doctors and other health-care workers that will shorten wait times – not profits,” added Grinspun.

The association has called on party leaders to make a clear statement that they will act as guardians of Medicare. This means enforcing the Canada Health Act. RNAO urges nurses and the public to vote for a party that will explicitly attach firm conditions prohibiting physicians from working in both private and publicly insured systems.

The association invites the public to review its , and urges Canadians to make an informed decision on Jan. 23.

Protecting Universality of Medicare:

  • The Liberal party, NDP and Green party promise to enforce the Canada Health Act.
  • The NDP proposes the Protection of Public Health Care Act which would ensure that federal health transfers would not subsidize for-profit private insurance or medical personnel covering medically necessary services.
  • The Liberal party’s Public Health Care Protection Initiative will ensure any new dedicated federal health-care funding is spent in the public system, if private involvement threatens the single-payer system. It would also report on public/private health-care delivery and on allocation by provinces and territories of federal health transfers.
  • The Conservative party proposes to expand the for-profit system.

Wait Times:

  • The Liberal government, with the provinces, developed the Canada Health Care Guarantee aimed at reducing wait times for key surgical procedures.
  • The Conservative party is pledging to work with the provinces to develop a patient wait times guarantee. However, this pledge would provide for patients being treated in private clinics and hospitals in Canada or other jurisdictions (i.e., U.S.).
  • The NDP would increase the number of health-care providers by 16,000 to decrease wait times. They would also add 40,000 long-term care beds over four years to take pressure off of acute care beds. They would expand the coverage of home care, to take some pressure off of hospitals and implement Roy Romanow’s proposed Home Care Transfer.
  • The Green party fails to address wait times.

More Health-care Professionals:

  • The Liberal party would provide money over five years to hire 1,000 family doctors. It would also increase funding to encourage more practitioners in family medicine and public health.
  • The Conservative party would work with the provinces to increase the number of health-care providers.
  • The NDP would establish a fund to address the shortage of nurses and other health-care providers.
  • The Green party would assist landed immigrants with medical credentials to obtain their Canadian licenses.

The RNAO invites you to read our analysis. We believe it can help you make your choice on Jan. 23.

“This is the second time in a year and a half Canadians are going to the polls. Now more than ever, we need a dependable, sustainable health-care system that will care for Canadians now and for future generations,” said Lesmond.

“Let us cast our vote for the party committed to nurses and to a publicly-funded, not-for-profit health-care system,” added Lesmond.

The Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario 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.

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