TORONTO, Feb. 1, 2006 – The Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO) will call for a 20 per cent increase in social assistance rates in a pre-budget consultation with the standing committee on finance and economic affairs tomorrow.
“While the McGuinty government’s three per cent increase in 2004 was a welcome first step, further action is necessary because the real value of this assistance is 30 per cent lower than it was in 1995,” says RNAO president Joan Lesmond.
“Ontario is one of the richest provinces in the country, yet close to half-a-million children live in poverty. Families who receive social assistance cannot afford to buy healthy and nutritional foods after paying their rent,” adds Lesmond.
“Decreasing poverty through an increase in both social assistance rates and the minimum wage is good health policy and good social policy.”
Tragic events in the past year such as the forced evacuation of the community of Kashechewan and the increase in Toronto’s gun violence also underline the urgent need for this investment. “The upcoming budget will be a clear expression of where the McGuinty government is heading in the second half of its mandate. Every decision will determine whether it is committed to re-building Ontario’s social fabric,” says Lesmond.
Lesmond says nurses will also be looking for firm commitments that will target the social determinants of health, strengthen and protect Medicare, and fulfill the government’s promises to the nursing profession by increasing full-time employment opportunities for all nurses, and ensuring that new graduates and mature nurses have the supports they need to remain in the Ontario nursing workforce.
RNAO’s complete pre-budget submission will be available.
Please note: Ms. Lesmond will be available to speak with reporters outside Room 151 after her presentation to the standing committee.
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.