RNs pleased First Ministers signed a deal
But insist on enforcement mechanisms and that new funds go to patient care, not profits
Ottawa, Sept. 16, 2004 – The federal-provincial agreement on health care reached today is a positive step towards strengthening and expanding the health-care system that sustains and defines Canadians, the Registered Nurses Association of Ontario (RNAO) said in response to the deal reached in Ottawa by the First Ministers.
“This agreement removes any concerns about funding and expands universally accessible health-care services to short-term home care, including some medications,” said RNAO president Joan Lesmond. “We congratulate the federal and provincial leaders for seizing this historic opportunity to begin to fill in the health-care gaps Canadians experience.”
“It brings us closer to implementing the Romanow report,” said RNAO executive director Doris Grinspun. “But Canadians – in particular registered nurses – must continue to keep a watchful eye on how the money is spent. We are disappointed the First Ministers turned a blind eye to the very real problems posed by the encroachment of for-profit health-care delivery.” Increased for-profit delivery costs more, compromises care and undermines medicare, she added.
“It is regrettable that the First Ministers chose to avoid a fully televised debate about the funding and delivery of health-care services,” said Lesmond. “The premiers know where Canadians stand on the issue, but we still don’t know where our governments stand. This is about nation building and you cannot build a nation behind its citizens’ backs.”
Ontario’s registered nurses expect our government to set ambitious benchmarks and deliver timely, quality services in key areas included in today’s agreement: health human resources, health promotion and disease prevention, reduced waiting times, primary health care, home care, and pharmacare. Despite the agreement’s silence on the issue, we will continue to demand that any public funding for health-care delivery be spent on patient care, not profits.
While the First Ministers acknowledged critical shortages of health professionals in all jurisdictions, the health summit provided no clear national solution to the health human resources crisis. “Canada’s overreliance on part-time and casual nursing is a threat to safe and quality patient care and leaves nurses with no choice but to look to the U.S. for full-time employment,” said Lesmond.
“RNAO will continue to partner with the Ontario government to ensure we recruit and retain as many RNs as necessary,” said Grinspun. “And, recent funding announcements for full-time RN positions show that the McGuinty government is committed to resolving the province’s nursing human resources challenges.”
“The federal government has re-established its role as a true financial partner in medicare,” said Lesmond. “Now, Prime Minister Paul Martin must secure health outcomes for this investment. And, nurses urge the federal government to re-establish itself as the true guardian of medicare by monitoring provincial compliance with, reporting to Parliament on, and enforcing the five principles and two conditions of the Canada Health Act.”
“We are encouraged by the progress our federal and provincial leaders have made, and we congratulate Premier McGuinty, as chair of the Council of the Federation, for his leadership on behalf of Canadians,” said Grinspun. “This deal brings us closer to ensuring Canadians receive the care they need in the right place, at the right time, by the right health-care provider in urban, rural and Aboriginal communities.” If governments succeed, Canadians will be the real winners, she added.
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.