TORONTO, Feb. 26, 2014 – A $14 an hour minimum wage, a commitment to retain and hire more RNs, placing nurse practitioners in all long-term care homes, and health system changes that provide people with same-day access to primary care providers are among the key demands the Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario (RNAO) will make when it heads to Queen's Park this week.
More than 120 registered nurses, nurse practitioners, and nursing students will meet with 80 MPPs and the leaders from all three political parties on Thursday, Feb. 27 to offer solutions they say will advance healthy public policy and lead to better quality care.
RNAO's event is well-timed as the government considers its next budget, says the association's Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Doris Grinspun. "We're pleased Premier Kathleen Wynne understands the need to raise the minimum wage after a four-year freeze. Unfortunately, $11 an hour isn't enough to lift the working poor out of poverty, and that's why we are asking for an increase to $14 an hour," says Grinspun, calling it an "essential investment in health."
Another top priority for RNAO is an increase in the number of RNs. Ontario has the second-worst RN-to-population ratio in the country. In 2012, Ontario had 6.99 RNs per 1,000 people, compared to the national average of 8.30 RNs per 1,000 people. "This ratio has been dropping for several years and will continue to drop at the expense of patient care if action isn't taken," says Rhonda Seidman-Carlson, president of RNAO. The association is asking the government to provide funding to hire 9,000 full-time RNs by 2015 to begin addressing the shortfall.
RNAO will also offer ideas on how to transform the health-care system so it is more person-centred and responsive, and functions more efficiently and cost-effectively. "We know there are only so many dollars to go around and that we can do much better with what we have. We need to tap into the tremendous capacity of registered nurses by utilizing them to their full and expanded scope of practice. Doing this will improve access to care and make the system more efficient," says Seidman-Carlson.
Members of the media are welcome to attend
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 check out our Facebook page at RNAO.ca/facebook  and follow us on Twitter RNAO.ca/twitter 
To arrange interviews or for more information, please contact:
Marion Zych, Director of Communications, RNAO
Cell: 647-406-5605 / Phone: 416-408-5605
Toll free: 1-800-268-7199 ext. 209