TORONTO, March 22, 2007
– Today’s budget demonstrates the McGuinty government is taking an important first step to reduce poverty in Ontario and to continue to support nurses. Both will promote health and prevent illness, says the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO).
“We are keenly aware of the connection between poverty and illness. We see the effect poverty has on many Ontarians who are struggling to make ends meet,” says Mary Ferguson-Paré, president of RNAO. “These investments will help people stay healthier and will begin to address the income gaps between families in Ontario.”
Nurses praise the government’s anti-poverty strategy, including the introduction of the Ontario Child Benefit, and increases in social assistance rates and the minimum wage. These measures will provide more money for more families. However, RNAO says more must be done to ensure all Ontarians can meet basic needs.
“We’re happy that the government recognizes the importance of reducing poverty, but we’ll be watching carefully to make sure progress on this front continues. This isn’t just good social policy, it’s good health policy,” says Doris Grinspun, executive director of RNAO.
RNAO also applauds the government’s actions to make sure nurses are there to provide health care for all Ontarians when they need it. In particular, the $89 million commitment to guarantee nursing graduates full-time jobs will ensure a strong start to their careers. “This is a wonderful investment in our profession’s future,” says Ferguson-Paré. “We have a shortage of nurses and this window of opportunity will go a long way to keep our nursing graduates here at home, and provide employers with the incentive to create full-time jobs.”
RNAO says the next step is more funding for the Late Career Initiative, in which nurses 55 and over spend part of their paid work time on professional development and mentoring new nurses. “We know this initiative works and it is important to keep our experienced nurses on the job,” adds 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.