Registed Nurses' Association of Ontario


RNAO urges Canada’s provincial and territorial health and finance ministers to commit to Medicare


Steer clear of for-profit health-care delivery

TORONTO, May 28, 2004 – The Registered Nurses Association of Ontario (RNAO) urges Canada’s provincial and territorial health and finance ministers to use this weekend’s working session on health-care reform and sustainability to commit to expanding publicly funded, not-for-profit health care and put the privatization ghosts to rest once and for all.

“Canada is at a crossroads, and this weekend’s working session has the potential to irrevocably and irreversibly alter our national health-care identity,” said RNAO president Joan Lesmond. “This is the time to define ourselves and our nation by protecting and strengthening Medicare.”

RNAO executive director Doris Grinspun said, “Registered nurses across Canada are looking for our elected representatives to commit to expanding public funding and not-for-profit health-care delivery and build on Tommy Douglas’ legacy.” This is a pivotal opportunity for the provincial and territorial ministers to set an example for federal leadership hopefuls campaigning for next month’s federal election, she added.

“Increased for-profit delivery costs more and delivers less quality. Canadians are more committed than ever to universal, publicly funded health care that does not profit from a person’s illness. They continue to identify Medicare and access to registered nurses and other health-care providers as their top priorities,” said Lesmond.

The association applauds Premier McGuinty’s and Minister of Health and Long-Term Care George Smitherman’s leadership to move towards at least 70 per cent full-time employment for registered nurses as recommended by the Canadian Nursing Advisory Committee (CNAC). RNAO expects Premier McGuinty and Minister Smitherman to exercise leadership on the national stage by advocating for this, and for the expansion of the Canada Health Act (CHA). We expect them to resist any attempts by proponents of privatization and for-profit health care to hijack the meeting with their own agenda.

“The principles of the Canada Health Act (CHA) are crucial to the efficient, equitable and civilized delivery of health care. They must be protected and strengthened,” said Grinspun. “Registered nurses are unwavering in our conviction that access to care must be based on need, not ability, to pay.”

RNAO is calling for a national ban on public-private partnerships (P3) to build hospitals; private hospitals; and for-profit MRI and CT scan clinics. These initiatives will erode Medicare’s long-term sustainability.

“We must choose to expand not-for-profit delivery and the principles of the CHA to include public health, primary health care, home health care, long-term care, rehabilitation and catastrophic drug coverage. When expanding Medicare, we must give first right of refusal to not-for-profit agencies,” said Lesmond.

Eighty per cent of Canadians want to strengthen, not dismantle, Medicare, and they have a right to know which ministers are on their side, Lesmond added.

The Registered Nurses Association of Ontario (RNAO) is the professional association representing registered nurses wherever they practise 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.

WHO: RNAO president Joan Lesmond and executive director Doris Grinspun will be on-site to comment on the provincial and territorial health and finance ministers’ working session on health-care reform and sustainability.

Saturday, May 29, RNAO president Joan Lesmond (cell: 416-567-6437)

Sunday, May 30, RNAO executive director Doris Grinspun (cell: 416-828-1852)

WHERE: Fairmont Royal York Hotel, Toronto


For more information, please contact:
Marion Zych, Director of Communications, RNAO
Phone: 416-408-5605
Toll free: 1-800-268-7199 ext.209
Cell: 647-406-5605