TORONTO, August 15, 2009 – As Dr. Anne Doig assumes the presidency of the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) at the organization’s upcoming annual meeting in Saskatoon, registered nurses remind her that 86 per cent of Canadians polled recently support not-for-profit solutions to strengthen the country’s universal health-care system. This widespread public opinion should be used to inform the CMA’s goals and decisions when it meets on Sunday (August 16), according to the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO).
“Canadians have made it very clear that they value, support and rely on our publicly- funded health-care system and we know that they expect physicians, nurses and other health-care professionals to make a commitment to defending and improving it,” says RNAO president Wendy Fucile.
Fucile says nurses want to send a strong message to the incoming president because her two predecessors, Dr. Brian Day and Dr. Robert Ouellet, spent much of their tenure advocating for greater privatization. Both physicians had a vested interest in private health care: Dr. Day owns a for-profit surgical facility in B.C. while Dr. Ouellet runs a chain of private diagnostic clinics in Quebec.
Nurses strongly disagree with for-profit health care and urge Dr. Doig to lead the CMA in a new direction. “The evidence, ingenuity and capacity already exist within our publicly-funded health-care system to deliver effective and efficient care. Nurses, along with physicians and other health-care providers, have been at the forefront of innovative changes that are improving access to health-care services across the country. These innovations serve all Canadians, not simply those who can afford it,” explains Doris Grinspun, executive director of RNAO.
The majority of the physicians that Dr. Doig will represent as CMA president recognize the benefits of universal Medicare. In a 2005 survey, the association found that only 27 per cent of physicians favour a purely private health-care system.
“It is time for front line physicians to stand up to their leadership and demand a change in direction,” says Grinspun. “The research evidence is unequivocal - Canadians will benefit most from strengthening the public financing and public delivery of health services and utilizing all health professionals to their full scope to improve timely access to quality care.”
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.