TORONTO, January 30, 2013 – Just days after Liberal party delegates chose a new leader, Ontario’s top nursing organization is releasing the health policy recommendations it wants all political parties to adopt.
The Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario’s (RNAO) Board of Directors is at Queen’s Park today to unveil Why your health matters . The platform is a call to action for premier-designate Kathleen Wynne, PC leader Tim Hudak, and NDP leader Andrea Horwath to collaborate and focus on issues nurses say will improve the overall health of people and help build an even stronger Ontario.
“The province is at a critical point,” explains RNAO President Rhonda Seidman-Carlson, “and we want to kick start a conversation about its future. A majority of people in Ontario rank health as a top priority. Nurses know what people need to stay healthy and help improve our health system so it functions better and takes advantage of the knowledge and skills of RNs.”
Why your health matters outlines recommendations in key areas:
• increasing the minimum wage
• improving access to affordable housing
• transforming the social assistance system to reflect the actual cost of living
• closing immediately all remaining coal plants
• ensuring people have a right to know about the existence of toxics in their homes, workplaces and consumer products
• hiring 9,000 additional RNs by 2015
• ensuring 70 per cent of all nurses work full-time so patients have continuity of care and care-giver
• securing fair wages for nurses working in all sectors of health care
• maximizing and expanding the role of RNs to deliver a broader range of care, such as ordering lab tests and prescribing medications
• ensuring all existing nurse practitioner-led clinics are funded to operate to full capacity
• opening new nurse practitioner-led clinics where patient need exists
• improving navigation across the health system by partnering with patients to co-ordinate their care through primary care in community health centres, nurse practitioner-led clinics, and family health teams
• expanding our publicly funded, not-for-profit system to include home care
• rejecting efforts to commercialize or privatize health-care delivery
• focusing on well-researched and demonstrated policies and evidence-based clinical practices to optimize the health of people, families, communities, and our health system
RNAO’s Chief Executive Officer Doris Grinspun says nurses are aware of the economic realities, which is why the platform contains a section on Ontario’s fiscal health. “Nurses know Ontario’s economy is recovering and that it’s affected by global events, but now is not the time to cut spending for social programs or offer tax cuts to wealthier Ontarians. Austerity measures and cost-cutting agendas always hit the hardest those who can least afford it,” explains Grinspun.
Grinspun says the association’s platform also highlights key changes that are necessary to ensure that every person in Ontario gets faster access to quality primary care and home care services for those who need it. “We believe our system needs to better reflect the needs of the patient, which is why we want members of the public to join the conversation about Why your health matters by visiting our website www.RNAO.ca  and social media channels.”
The Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO) is the professional association representing registered nurses wherever they practise 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.
Download a copy of Why your health matters, including backgrounders, at www.RNAO.ca 
For interviews, please contact:
Marion Zych, Director of Communications, RNAO
Cell: 647-406-5605 / Office: 416-408-5605
Toll free: 1-800-268-7199 ext. 209
Melissa Di Costanzo
Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO)
Cellular: (647) 222-6942
Office: (416) 408-5606