RNAO calls for political accountability on eve of crucial health funding meeting
As the clock counts down to the start of a crucial meeting on health funding, nurses are urging the prime minister, premiers and territorial leaders to summon the will to strike an agreement that will ensure the future of the country’s publicly funded, not-for-profit health system, and that no Canadian is left behind.
The Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO) says the starting point for talks must be primary care, considered the gateway to ensuring people’s overall health. “We are at a crisis point when it comes to access to care in this sector. Millions of Canadians do not have a primary care provider, and even if they have one, it is only during regular office hours, and that is a shame because this is where the health-care system begins,” says RNAO President Dr. Claudette Holloway, adding that nurse practitioners can ably fill the void in communities where there are shortages of family physicians.
“An effective, patient-centred, accessible, 24-hours-a-day-seven-days-a-week primary care provider is foundational to enhancing health and ensuring a high performing health system. Robust primary care will also reduce visits to walk-in clinics and emergency rooms,” says Holloway.
Nurses also say that any agreement must include benchmarks for necessary improvements in home care and long-term care, as well as more mental health supports. Canadian medicare is a work in progress and it is the responsibility of the federal, provincial and territorial leaders to plan and be accountable for enhancing services in these underfunded essential sectors.
Underpinning all of the above, says RNAO, is ensuring that health transfers are increased to 35 per cent, and that there is targeted funding to shore up a nursing workforce that has seen many nurses leave the profession. “Nurses have borne the brunt of the pandemic. Their dedication is unwavering, but they are drained and urgently need competitive compensation and safe workloads, so they stay building careers in Canada,” says RNAO CEO Dr. Doris Grinspun.
Grinspun says Ottawa must assert its leadership role and draw a line in the sand when it comes to health-care delivery. “The Canada Health Act must be fully upheld and no money should go towards for-profit surgical clinics. These clinics are more expensive, deliver lower quality of care and are accountable by law to investors – not to patients. These proposed ‘experiments’ also push us toward a U.S. style two-tier health-care system that does nothing to improve wait times. Canadians deserve better. And nurses will do all we can to safeguard our public health system,” warns Grinspun.
The Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (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 we serve. For more information about RNAO, visit RNAO.ca or follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
- 30 -