Registed Nurses' Association of Ontario

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RNs urge Ontarians to remember that their vote on Oct. 10 can help create a healthier society

2007-10-01
TORONTO, Oct. 1, 2007 – With election day less than two weeks away, nurses are urging Ontarians to cast their vote. “There is a lot at stake and we want Ontarians to know RNs’ perspectives on the important issues that will affect their health when they choose a new government, and when they vote on a referendum for a new electoral system,” says Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO) President Mary Ferguson-Pare.

Ferguson-Pare says health care and issues affecting people’s health are top of mind among Ontarians, and nurses’ perspectives can help the public make an informed decision. In May, RNAO released a report outlining policies and programs that would strengthen our health-care system and lead to a healthier society. The report contains recommendations in five key areas: social determinants of health, the environment, Medicare, the nursing workforce, and fiscal capacity. RNAO shared these ideas with all political parties and they adopted some of the recommendations.

“Today, we judge what each party is saying to determine if they are in sync with the views of nurses,” says Doris Grinspun, Executive Director of RNAO. “To help nurses and the public, we have compared our platform with that of the four major political parties. We examined each party’s plan to reduce poverty, improve our environment, protect and strengthen our Medicare system and end the nursing shortage. We know that our proposals will require additional funding, and that is why we say ‘no’ to tax cuts and ‘yes’ to making poverty history, making our environment greener, and strengthening our health-care system for all Ontarians,” she adds.

The RNAO platform identifies poverty as a crucial determinant of health and calls for a comprehensive poverty reduction strategy, including an immediate raise of the minimum wage to $10 an hour. It also focuses on environmental health, and calls for strong measures to eliminate harmful toxins, chemicals and pesticides and for a comprehensive plan to tackle carcinogens. RNAO also wants assurance that the country’s universal, publicly funded health-care system will be enhanced and not undermined by those who pursue profits. Nurses oppose private for-profit clinics and public-private partnerships because the evidence shows they result in higher costs for taxpayers and worse health outcomes for patients.

“A vital way to strengthen Medicare is to end the nursing shortage and ensure that nurses are working to their full potential,” says Grinspun. This includes opening at least 15 nurse-led clinics; adding 9,000 more RNs, including more nurse practitioners, to the system; achieving 70 per cent full-time employment for all RNs in Ontario; guaranteeing full-time employment to all new graduates; creating incentives to keep nurses 55 and older at work with strategies that allow them to spend 80 per cent of their time on direct patient care and another 20 per cent mentoring new graduates; and equalizing pay and working conditions across all health-care sectors. Grinspun says these measures will ensure that we are making the best use of nurses’ knowledge to provide the public with the care they need and deserve.

“We want voters, including nurses, to look at the issues we’ve identified and how each party plans to address them before casting their ballot on Oct. 10,” says Ferguson-Pare.

RNAO says voters should also remember that in addition to choosing a candidate in this election, they will decide on Ontario’s electoral system. They can choose between the existing system or to adopt Mixed Member Proportional (MMP), a new one proposed by an assembly of citizens. “This is an incredible opportunity for citizens across this province to have a say in how they wish to be represented. We are being given a choice and we have a responsibility to inform ourselves about this important referendum,” says Ferguson-Pare. She adds that RNAO supports MMP because it will encourage a greater diversity of opinion in the provincial legislature.

To view RNAO’s comparison chart, please visit www.rnao.ca

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.

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For more information, please contact:
Marion Zych, Director of Communications, RNAO
Phone: 416-408-5605
Toll free: 1-800-268-7199 ext.209
Cell: 647-406-5605
mzych@rnao.ca

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