TORONTO, March 23, 2006 – Ontario nurses applaud the government’s investment in health promotion including: new screening programs for women and newborns; improvements to our public health system and community care; and expanding public transit. However, to keep Ontarians healthy, we needed a substantial increase in the incomes of families on social assistance.
“You can’t be healthy if you live in poverty,”
said Joan Lesmond, president of the Registered Nurses’ Association
Ontario’s nurses had called for a 20 per cent increase in social assistance rates. “The two per cent announced today will do little to help struggling families put food on the table. This is most disappointing given the overwhelming evidence that links poverty with increased sickness and premature death,” added Lesmond.
Nurses have been impressed with the steps the McGuinty government has taken to address the nursing shortage such as the Nursing Retention Fund and the recent announcement for tuition reimbursement for nursing graduates from rural and remote communities. However, given the demands on the nursing workforce and their central role in health-care transformation, the association was expecting more funding to ease the workload of senior nurses and allow them to mentor new ones.
RNAO sees no evidence that the government is serious about honouring its pledge to increase to 70 per cent the number of RNs working full time, which is essential to ensuring continuity of patient care.
“Without targeted funding geared to this effort, we will not reach this goal and the quality of patient care will suffer. It is preposterous that it takes two years for a nursing graduate to find full-time work in this province,” said RNAO executive director Doris Grinspun.
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.-30-