TORONTO – March 25, 2010
– Ontario nurses welcome the 1.5 per cent increase in hospital funding outlined in the Ontario budget, and say this means government and employers must now fast track the promised 9,000 additional nurses to ensure patients receive the quality care they need and deserve.
Doris Grinspun, executive director of the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO), says nurses understand the province is still mired in recession but warns that as hospitals struggle to balance their budgets, patient care can not be compromised. “There is clear evidence linking care provided by registered nurses with better health outcomes.”
RNAO is pleased the McGuinty government reaffirmed its commitment to open 25 additional nurse practitioner-led clinics before the next election. “These clinics are needed now as the lack of access to primary care in dozens of Ontario communities means people are forced to go to hospital emergency rooms,” says Grinspun.
While these investments in health care are very important, the association says it is critical to remember what keeps people healthy. As Ontario emerges from difficult economic times, RNAO urges the government to strengthen its efforts to lift people out of poverty, provide access to affordable housing, and ensure a clean environment. To that end, nurses applaud the increase of the minimum wage to $10.25 an hour and the government’s decision to step in and provide money for child care spaces where the federal government left a vacuum. RNAO’s president Wendy Fucile says as “the recession comes to an end, these investments must be strengthened so we create vibrant communities.”
The association says the slight increase of one per cent in social assistance rates is welcome but not substantive enough to reflect the cost of living in Ontario. Fucile says nurses are also concerned about the government’s plan to replace the Special Diet Allowance with a new program. “Access to nutritious food is essential and RNAO expects this vital supplement to be transformed with great care so people with chronic health issues do not suffer during and following this change. Nurses, alongside others, must participate in shaping this new nutritional program. Together we must listen to the voices of persons living the devastating realities of poverty,” Fucile adds.
Among the measures in the budget that RNAO approves:
-A review of the Public Hospitals Act to create a hospital system that taps the expertise of health-care professionals and community partners.
-The government’s plan to introduce legislation to make health-care providers and executives more accountable for improving patient care.
-Changes to Ontario’s drug system to facilitate lower prices for generic drugs, increased support for pharmacies in rural and under-serviced areas and support the expansion of clinical services provided by pharmacists.
The Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario is the professional association representing 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.
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