TORONTO, May 10, 2007 – Ontario’s RNs are marking Nursing Week with a challenge to all political parties to adopt policies and programs that will advance a better health-care system and a healthier society for all Ontarians.
The nurses’ platform, Creating a Healthier Society, released this morning at Queen’s Park by the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO), outlines recommendations in five key areas: social determinants of health, the environment, Medicare, the nursing workforce, and taxes.
RNAO says the evidence on the social determinants of health is irrefutable and the time for action is now. “We offer a clear vision and pragmatic solutions about the support systems that are needed to help people maintain or regain their health,” says RNAO President Mary Ferguson-Paré. “We live in an affluent province and can no longer ignore the increasing number of men, women and children who are left behind due to poverty. A $10 minimum wage; protection for vulnerable workers; higher social assistance rates; a community-based housing strategy; concrete steps to raise children above poverty – these are the actions that will help vulnerable people fight poverty,” says Ferguson-Paré.
The nurses’ platform also outlines what steps need to be taken to ensure a healthier environment and reduce exposures to pollution, toxins, and harmful chemicals, and to change our energy policies to emphasize conservation and to avoid further disruption to our planet and to our health. “These are the factors that keep people healthy and make people sick. We work with patients every day – in hospitals, nursing homes, and in the community at large. We know what makes a difference in the quality of our patients’ lives,” says RNAO’s President.
RNAO’s platform also addresses the investments needed to build Ontario’s publicly funded and not-for profit health-care system and keep it sustainable for decades to come. “We need political leaders who have the courage to say no to those who want to benefit from privatization and the destruction of Medicare,” says RNAO Executive Director Doris Grinspun. “We have one of the best acute care systems in the world, and as we continue improving it, we must do much more to promote health, prevent illness and help people with chronic conditions manage their diseases. This can only be achieved by ensuring adequate numbers of nurses working to their full potential in all health sectors and substantial investments in primary care and home care,” she says.
“We also need another 9,000 RNs employed in Ontario by 2010 and 70 per cent of them working full-time to provide the public with the nursing care they need and deserve,” says Grinspun.
“These strategies, accompanied by a continued commitment to full-time guaranteed employment for graduating nurses and the adoption of the 80/20 strategy for nurses 55 and over (80 per cent of nurses’ time spent in direct patient care and 20 per cent spent mentoring new graduates), will ensure a healthier nursing workforce and improve retention and recruitment to the profession. This will also benefit the public,” she adds.
“Our proposals set the stage for a critical dialogue over the coming weeks and months, and we urge Ontario’s political parties to adopt our recommendations in their own platforms,” says Ferguson-Paré. “We also want people to know where nurses stand on these important issues because they will define the campaign and help voters decide what kind of province they want to live in.” She concludes that “nurses say no to tax cuts and yes to social, environmental and health services that will create a healthier society.”
The association’s full report can be found at RNAO’s website at www.rnao.ca.
The Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO) is the professional association for registered nurses 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.