Canada's nurses are saving a seat for the federal government

NIAGARA-ON-THE-LAKE, ON, July 26, 2013 /CNW/ - As the premiers wrap up their summer Council of the Federation meeting in Niagara, the Canadian Nurses Association (CNA) and the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions (CFNU) are reminding the federal government that they still have an important role to play in uniting Canada's health-care system across the regions to ultimately improve the health of Canadians. The premiers were previously together in Niagara in 2004 alongside the federal government to sign the health accord, where both levels agreed on "collaboration between all governments, working together in common purpose to meet the evolving health-care needs of Canadians." CNA and CFNU note the progress that premiers have made on health-care transformation, but are calling on the federal government to bring consistency and unity across the provinces and territories.

"To guarantee every Canadian the same access to the same quality health care — regardless of who they are or where they live — the federal government must assume a leadership role," said CNA president Barb Mildon. "Health providers and the premiers have made progress in identifying local innovations that can be scaled up into national solutions, but real progress depends on actually implementing these solutions consistently across our country.  We're eager to work with the new health minister, Rona Ambrose, to present priority outcomes — such as a reduction in diabetes, availability of electronic health records, 24/7 access to primary care — that require focused collaboration to achieve better system performance and better health."

The health accord, established in 2004 between the federal and provincial/territorial governments, is set to expire in 2014 and a replacement has not been established. When the Health Council of Canada reported in 2011 that only about half of the targets in the accord were being met, a spokesperson for then-health minister Leona Aglukkaq confirmed there would be a renewal at some point and that the federal government "will work collaboratively with the provinces and territories to renew the health accord." An unexpected development came later in 2011 when finance minister Jim Flaherty announced health transfers will continue to increase at six per cent a year until 2016-2017, after which they would be based on growth in Canada's GDP and inflation.

"Demonstrating a commitment to Canadians cannot be done through signing a cheque alone," said CFNU president Linda Silas. "The federal government signed up for a collaborative relationship with the provinces and territories in 2004. Almost ten years later, there are still major gaps in the health-care system that must be addressed in order to guarantee quality, safe care for all Canadians. We urge the federal government to re-commit to an investment of effort and resources to help us build a better universal, public health system that will lead to better health outcomes for all Canadians."

To sustain and improve Canada's publicly funded, not-for-profit health-care system, CNA and CFNU recommend three priorities where the federal government can contribute to health-care transformation:

  • strengthen accountability by establishing health and system improvement goals based on a series of priority quality indicators with targets across the health-care system
  • ensure the capacity to meet the needs of Canadians by stabilizing and securing Canada's health workforce today and for the long term
  • improve health equity and reduce health disparity by investing in services and programs such as greater access to community-based health services (e.g., primary care, outpatient care and home care) and a universal pharmacare program

CNA is the national professional voice of registered nurses in Canada. A federation of 11 provincial and territorial nursing associations and colleges representing nearly 150,000 registered nurses, CNA advances the practice and profession of nursing to improve health outcomes and strengthen Canada's publicly funded not-for-profit health system.

CFNU represents close to 200,000 nurses and student nurses. Our members work in hospitals, long-term care facilities, community health care, and our homes. The CFNU speaks to all levels of government, other health care stakeholders and the public about evidence-based policy options to improve patient care, working conditions and our public health care system.

SOURCE: CANADIAN NURSES ASSOCIATION

For further information:

or interview requests, please contact: 
Kate Headley, External Communications Coordinator 
Canadian Nurses Association
Telephone: 613-237-2159, ext. 561 | 1-800-361-8404
Cell: 613-697-7507
E-mail: kheadley@cna-aiic.ca

Linda Silas, President
Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions
Telephone: 613-526-4661 | 1-800-321-9821
Cell: 613-859-4314
E-mail: lsilas@nursesunions.ca

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CANADIAN NURSES ASSOCIATION

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Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions

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