January 26, 2012
Canada’s treasured publicly-funded, not-for-profit health-care system received some good news and some bad news last week.
First the bad news. Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s federal government announced it would stay out of debate over the future of the country’s health-care system. RNAO joined other health-care stakeholders in calling the government’s avoidance of the debate shortsighted and irresponsible.
When the current 10-year Health Accord between the federal, provincial and territorial governments expires in 2014, federal health transfers for health care will continue to grow by six per cent a year until 2017. After that time the transfers will be limited to increases in the gross domestic product. However, as the RNAO pointed out, it’s not about the money. It’s about ensuring there’s federal leadership to protect the principles and spirit of our treasured publicly-funded, not-for-profit health-care system by enforcing the Canada Health Act.
That’s the role of the federal government. With the federal government handing over money with no strings attached, provincial governments will be encouraged to experiment with for-profit health care delivery. We know from the evidence, from Canada and elsewhere, that for-profit health care delivers less care for more money. That is not the path RNs and most Canadians want to take.
Now the good news. Nurses can find hope in the mandate of the Premiers’ Committee, established last week to focus attention on three areas: scope of practice for health-care providers, management of health resource costs, and clinical practice guidelines.
Ontario’s nurses have a good story to tell the rest of the country. Thanks to transformative changes in the last several years, nurse practitioners in Ontario now lead primary care clinics and enjoy expanded scope of practice that includes open prescribing and admitting, treating, transferring and discharging hospital in-patients. In the area of clinical practice guidelines, RNAO has produced over 45 best practice guidelines in the last 12 years and RNAO’s BPG program is acknowledged as setting the gold standard for nurses across the country and internationally.
As leaders in their communities and in health care, nurses demonstrate every day how to improve patient and client care and save dollars. But strengthening health care by assuring every Canadian access to primary care and home care and better managing chronic care conditions will not happen without all levels of government working together, at the table.
Join the RNAO in calling on Prime Minister Stephen Harper to come to the table. Send an email to Prime Minister Harper urging him to show leadership to protect and enforce the principles and spirit of publicly-funded, not-for-profit health care. Ask the Prime Minister and other party leaders to look at solutions that are working, that are leading to better outcomes every day such as expanding scope of practice and implementing clinical best practice guidelines. Tell him to show leadership, to come to the table.