TORONTO, May 2, 2013 – The Ontario budget’s investments in social assistance and home and community care are welcome news from the top professional nursing organization in Ontario, but without more registered nurses (RN), the health of the public will worsen.
The Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO) says a modest one per cent increase in social assistance rates, a top up for single adults on Ontario Works, coupled with the government’s decision not to claw back money recipients earn if they work part time is a good step. “We are pleased that the government understands that you can’t escape a life of poverty if you are going to be penalized by finding part-time work. Nurses know that income affects your health and your ability to provide for you and your loved ones,” says Rhonda Seidman-Carlson, president of RNAO.
The government’s decision to raise the asset limit that a person can keep before qualifying for social assistance is also a positive move. “RNAO applauds the government for accepting the wisdom of Frances Lankin and Munir Sheikh who made this recommendation when they reviewed Ontario’s social assistance system. We encourage Premier Wynne to adopt more of their recommendations including a complete overhaul of the social assistance system so it reflects the actual cost of living, and simplifies the tangled web of rules and bureaucracy a person faces when applying for benefits,” insists Seidman-Carlson. She adds a lot more needs to be done to lift the approximately 1.3 million in this province out of poverty.
With respect to direct spending for health care, RNAO’s Chief Executive Officer is blunt. “RNs are dismayed to learn that the government is once again turning a blind eye to the need for more registered nurses,” says Doris Grinspun, adding that Ontario has the second lowest RN-to population ratio in the entire country. “What will it take for the government to understand that this is not good for both the health of patients and the economy. All the research consistently points this out,” Grinspun says. RNAO has been asking for the past two years for an additional 9,000 RNs to begin catching up with the rest of the country.
RNAO is also concerned about the government’s decision to hold base funding for hospitals at zero growth. This will result in heavier workloads and increased sick time for nurses who are already overburdened.
RNAO praises the government for earmarking 260 million dollars for home and community care. “This money is needed to help people remain in their homes longer - respecting the notion that aging in place is better for seniors and our communities, than institutional care,” says Grinspun.
At the end of the day, RNAO says overall spending in the Ontario budget was lower on a per capita basis than every other province in 2012-2013. This means there is room to improve program spending in critical areas such as social services and health, especially if the government wants to create a ‘prosperous and fair’ province that includes nursing care services that will help create healthier communities.
The Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO) 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.
For more information about RNAO, visit our website at www.RNAO.ca . You can also find us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.