Ontario nurses want all candidates running in the federal election to know that health and health care are central to Canadians.
The Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO) released its policy platform today. It highlights issues affecting people’s health as the country prepares for a federal election on Oct. 21. A platform for a healthy Canada contains nine recommendations covering four areas: access to care, social determinants of health, the environment and fiscal capacity.
Recommendations include expanding the country’s publicly funded, not-for-profit health system by setting up a national pharmacare program and covering dental care and home care services. Re-instating the role of the national chief nursing officer to influence federal health policy and tackle the serious health human resource needs Canada faces is another recommendation.
With the country in the grip of an opioid crisis that is affecting people, families and communities in every corner of the country, RNAO is also urging parties wanting to form the next government to respond to the epidemic with greater urgency. “Twelve-thousand people have died over the past three years due to opioid poisoning and for the first time in decades, the life expectancy of Canadians has dropped. Urgent attention and responses are needed now,” says RNAO president Angela Cooper Brathwaite.
Recommendations aimed at addressing long-standing inequality and discrimination faced by Indigenous Peoples must also be top federal government priorities. “Nurses and nursing students are deeply committed to the principle of health for all. We are calling on candidates to publicly commit to make it a priority to fund health care, adequate housing and clean water. We have to right the wrongs of our past,” says Cooper Brathwaite.
“Through our day to day practice, nurses have a window into the factors that shape the overall wellbeing of Canadians,” says Doris Grinspun, RNAO’s chief executive officer, adding that is why the association is also calling for action on climate change, including targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and more investment in public transportation.
“The federal government is key to ensuring people are healthy and to ensuring the system meets their care needs, wherever they live. For this, we urge all candidates to commit to increasing the federal share of health-care expenditures, which has been dropping over time,” says Grinspun.
The platform is one of many ways nurses will be speaking out during the election campaign. A series of all-candidates meetings will take place in federal ridings throughout Ontario with nurses organizing debates among MP hopefuls. RNAO has asked all parties to respond to a questionnaire on key health topics and the responses can be found at https://rnao.ca/federal-election-2019
RNAO is the professional association representing registered nurses, nurse practitioners, and nursing students in Ontario. Since 1925, RNAO has advocated for healthy public policy, promoted excellence in nursing practice, increased nurses’ contribution to shaping the health system, and influenced decisions that affect nurses and the public they serve. For more information about RNAO, visit RNAO.ca or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.