TORONTO, June 4, 2012 – The province’s top professional nursing organization joins a nationwide campaign today to protest undemocratic changes that severely harm the ability of Canadians to protect their natural environment – a most basic determinant of health.
The Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO) will darken its website in a symbolic move to voice disapproval of Bill C-38, Ottawa’s federal budget legislation. Instead of the usual democratic process, which ensures thorough debate of each separate bill by elected representatives, the government has hidden changes to more than 70 federal laws and regulations. These include the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, the National Energy Board Act, the Fisheries Act, and the Species at Risk Act - contained in the 400-page “omnibus” bill that the government intends to pass with little deliberation. Nurses say these changes will weaken environmental and health protection, enable polluters to get around assessment rules for development projects, endanger our water, harm biodiversity, and make our economy less sustainable.
“We are endorsing this campaign because Canadians deserve better when it comes to ensuring sound environmental policy, which is a pillar of good health,” says Doris Grinspun, chief executive officer of RNAO. She adds “the changes have little to do with passing a federal budget and more to do with sidestepping the most basic right of Canadians to make democratic decisions about the future of our environment.”
The BlackOutSpeakOut campaign is endorsed by more than 370 social, environmental and other organizations across the country. Today, thousands of nurses join their voices.
“Knowing what we know about the effects of toxics and other pollutants in the air, in the ground and in our water on the health of Canadians, we can’t afford to weaken environmental laws,” says Rhonda Seidman-Carlson, president of RNAO, adding that “the association was a proud member of the coalition that helped put an end to the sale, display and use of cosmetic pesticides in Ontario.”
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.