TORONTO, March 29, 2011 – The Ontario government’s decision to fund children who experience mental health challenges gets high praise from Ontario nurses. “This issue has been crying out for attention and it is important to see dedicated funding,” says Doris Grinspun, Executive Director of the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO). “Given that one in five people in this province will have a mental health illness at some point in their life; this is a good first step. However, it’s imperative that the government extend funding beyond children and youth so that all Ontarians including Aboriginal people who suffer mental health challenges can receive the help they need and deserve.”
RNAO is concerned the government appears to be resting on its laurels when it comes to the poverty reduction strategy. Although the McGuinty government is increasing social assistance rates by one per cent, RNAO says it is inadequate to turn the corner on poverty. “Rather than investing in mega-jails through private-public partnerships (P3s) that will be costly to taxpayers, nurses urge money be invested in social determinants of health such as affordable housing and that the minimum wage be increased again this year,” says President David McNeil, adding that crime is decreasing while poverty is increasing.
The government’s plan to create a special commission to look at public sector spending gets mixed reaction from RNAO. “Nurses understand the challenges the government faces, particularly during a time of recession, but the devil is in the details. We’re encouraged the government is making it clear it will not entertain recommendations that would lead to the privatization of health services,” Grinspun says, adding that publicly funded services must remain publicly administered and delivered on a not-for-profit basis. “Premier McGuinty needs to remember what the Ontario Auditor General concluded about the Brampton hospital. Not only did this P3 hospital go over budget, it also opened with fewer beds,” says Grinspun.
RNAO credits the government for creating additional post secondary spaces and is pleased to know that 15 per cent of the 60,000 spaces are allocated to nursing programs for RNs. The association says this is good news because Ontario has the second lowest ratio of RNs to population in the country. RNAO says the evidence is overwhelming that patients enjoy higher health outcomes when cared for by registered nurses.
The association also applauds a measure to extend breast cancer screening for high risk women aged 30-49. “Nurses support this initiative because it has the potential to reduce women's risk of death,” says McNeil, adding the evidence is clear that breast cancer is best treated with early detection. He hopes this will encourage women at risk to speak with their nurse practitioner or physician. Mental health and prevention screening are just two areas where nurse practitioners excel. Thus, RNAO is eager to see all 25 announced NP-led clinics open their doors this year.
The Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario 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.
To arrange an interview with a nurse or for more information, please contact:
Marion Zych, Director of Communications, RNAO
Cell: 647-406-5605 / Phone: 416-408-5605
Toll free: 1-800-268-7199 ext. 209