Wait-and-see budget holds hope for improved health care
TORONTO, May 11, 2005 – The government’s commitment to continued health-care reform is clear from today’s budget, but whether there are sufficient resources to support that reform isn’t, said the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO).
RNAO president Joan Lesmond said today’s budget is sadly short on specifics about how new public dollars will translate into better access to health-care services and professionals. She noted that the reduced growth in program spending for the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (5.9 per cent this year, as opposed to 11 per cent in 2004) may slow the progress the government has made in rebuilding the health-care system.
“Nurses and the public they serve need to know in human terms how today’s budget will continue to strengthen nursing and thus, the health of the public. In particular, we are concerned about the government’s silence on its next steps in reaching its promised 8,000 full-time new nursing positions by 2007,” said Lesmond.
RNAO executive director Doris Grinspun applauded the government’s significant investments in child-care, housing, students and post-secondary education. She said the government’s announcement of a pilot program to educate nurses in the North is a good way to address disparities in access to nursing services. “Investments in these social programs are essential to helping Ontarians get and stay healthy,” said Grinspun.
RNAO remains concerned about any increased private-sector involvement in child care or health-care. “Because nurses know that the sustainability of health care and Medicare is essential, they are concerned about the additional costs resulting from private financing of public assets like hospitals,” said Lesmond.
Added RNAO executive director: “We expect that any government investments aimed at reducing wait times, such as increased hip and knee joint replacements or cataract surgeries, announced in today’s budget will continue within the public – not for-profit – realm. This government showed leadership in repatriating MRIs and CT Scans from for-profit to not-for-profit hands, and we expect it to show the same foresight in all other clinical services.”
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.