Registed Nurses' Association of Ontario

RNs say politicians must put health first during federal election campaign

RNs say politicians must put health first during federal election campaign


TORONTO, Sept. 18, 2008 – A top nursing organization is calling on all parties to put health and health care on the agenda during this federal election campaign. 

The Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO) says the issue consistently ranks as a top concern among Canadians. For example, in a recent Angus Reid poll, 78 per cent of respondents said health care is a very important factor they consider when deciding which party to support. Yet, so far in this campaign, the issue is not getting the attention it deserves.

In a report being released today called Putting Health First, RNAO pinpoints the crucial areas that shape and influence an individual’s ability to be healthy. It outlines policies and programs that would create healthier communities, promote a healthy environment, build a stronger public health-care system, and provide better access to health-care professionals.

“Registered nurses know that issues such as poverty, affordable housing and the environment are crucial in determining one’s health,” says RNAO President Wendy Fucile. “It’s a national disgrace that one in 12 children live in poverty in this country. Our recommendations look at what needs to be done now to reverse this inequality.”

RNAO’s report also examines the investments needed to strengthen and sustain Canada’s publicly funded health-care system.

“Our proposals set the stage for an important discussion that has been lacking in this campaign, and we urge the federal political parties to take a serious look at our recommendations and adopt them in their election platforms,” says RNAO Executive Director Doris Grinspun. “We also want voters to know where nurses stand on issues that will determine what kind of country we live in.”
Key recommendations in the report include:

  • Enforce the Canada Health Act and attach firm conditions to federal health transfers to stop the growth of two-tier health care.
  • Introduce a national, publicly funded and publicly controlled pharmacare program covering essential drugs.
  • Invest $250 million, phased in annually, to create 10,000 new full-time RN positions across Canada and provide incentives to create healthy work environments.
  • Phase in $135 million per year for nursing education to expand the number of qualified faculty in Canadian nursing programs, increase the number of nursing seats, and provide more clinical placement opportunities for nursing students. 
  • Protect the public’s health by hiring 1,000 additional inspectors and veterinarians to help safeguard the country’s food supply, improve compliance and make sure this summer’s listeriosis outbreak never happens again.
  • Implement a comprehensive national anti-poverty strategy, including: increases to the federal minimum wage; increases to the Canada Child Tax Benefit; investments in early learning and child care; and funding for a national housing program.
  • Achieve deep reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, price carbon appropriately, and increase investments in renewable energy and energy efficient programs so that Canada can meet its obligations under the Kyoto Protocol.
  • Ensure the fiscal capacity to deliver essential health, social and environmental services by rejecting further tax cuts until alternative progressive revenue sources, such as those that encourage environmental responsibility, are found.
  • Ensure all international and inter-provincial trade and investment agreements include strong protections for health care, environment, human rights and labour standards, and that they do not restrict governments' ability to regulate in the public interest.

The association’s full report can be found at RNAO’s website at

The Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO) is the professional association representing registered nurses in Ontario. Since 1925, RNAO has lobbied 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:
Marion Zych, Director of Communications
Phone: 416-408-5605/1-800-268-7199 ext. 209
Cell: 647-406-5605