TORONTO, Oct. 12, 2010 – Ontario nurses are calling on Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Bloc Québécois leader Gilles Duceppe to support legislation aimed at creating a national housing strategy.
In an open letter addressed to both leaders, the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO) explains why it believes all political parties should pass Bill C-304, a private members’ bill introduced by NDP MP Libby Davies, when it comes to a vote this fall.
“We know the Liberals and the New Democratic Party are supporting this bill, but they don’t have enough votes to pass it alone,” says RNAO President David McNeil. “That’s why we’ve written this letter urging both the Prime Minister and the Bloc leader to act because it would be a shame if they don’t support Bill C-304.”
McNeil points out that Canada is the only G-8 country without a national housing strategy. “We know safe and adequate housing is directly linked to better health and that’s why we are speaking out on this issue.”
RNAO’s Executive Director Doris Grinspun adds Canada’s record on the housing front leaves a lot to be desired. Figures by the Wellesley Institute, a housing think tank, reveal up to 300,000 Canadians are homeless. Another three million households live in unaffordable housing while a further three million households live in housing described as substandard. “These are appalling statistics for a country that is as wealthy as Canada is,” says Grinspun.
The bill would require provincial and territorial governments to consult with municipalities, Aboriginal communities, non-profit and private sector housing providers and other community organizations to establish a long-overdue national housing strategy.
RNAO’s call for action on Bill C-304 comes just days before a National Day of Action scheduled for October 19 to draw attention to the need for a federal housing strategy. “We are not the only group pressing Ottawa on this issue,” says Grinspun. RNAO and Ontario nurses will be part of a huge effort with rallies being organized from Vancouver to Halifax, including Ottawa’s Parliament Hill. “We plan to speak out on behalf of those who lack an adequate and affordable place to sleep at night.”
The Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO) is the professional association representing registered nurses in Ontario. Since 1925, RNAO has advocated 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.
For more information about RNAO, visit our website at www.rnao.ca . You can also check out our Facebook page at www.rnao.ca/facebook  and follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/rnao .
You can read a copy of the letter here .
Director of Communications
Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO)
158 Pearl Street
416-408-5605 (office)647-406-5605 (cellular)