Nurses encouraged that Ontario budget tackles poverty



    TORONTO, March 22 /CNW/ - Today's budget demonstrates the McGuinty
government is taking an important first step to reduce poverty in Ontario and
to continue to support nurses. Both will promote health and prevent illness,
says the Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario (RNAO).
    "We are keenly aware of the connection between poverty and illness. We
see the effect poverty has on many Ontarians who are struggling to make ends
meet," says Mary Ferguson-Paré, president of RNAO. "These investments will
help people stay healthier and will begin to address the income gaps between
families in Ontario."
    Nurses praise the government's anti-poverty strategy, including the
introduction of the Ontario Child Benefit, and increases in social assistance
rates and the minimum wage. These measures will provide more money for more
families. However, RNAO says more must to be done to ensure all Ontarians can
meet basic needs.
    "We're happy that the government recognizes the importance of reducing
poverty, but we'll be watching carefully to make sure progress on this front
continues. This isn't just good social policy, it's good health policy," says
Doris Grinspun, executive director of RNAO.
    RNAO also applauds the government's actions to make sure nurses are there
to provide health care for all Ontarians when they need it. In particular, the
$89 million commitment to guarantee nursing graduates full-time jobs will
ensure a strong start to their careers. "This is a wonderful investment in our
profession's future," says Ferguson-Paré. "We have a shortage of nurses and
this window of opportunity will go a long way to keep our nursing graduates
here at home, and provide employers with the incentive to create full-time
jobs."
    RNAO says the next step is more funding for the Late Career Initiative,
in which nurses 55 and over spend part of their paid work time on professional
development and mentoring new nurses. "We know this initiative works and it is
important to keep our experienced nurses on the job," adds Grinspun.

    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.





For further information:

For further information: Marion Zych, Director of Communications,
Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario, (416) 408-5605 (office), (647)
406-5605 (cellular phone), mzych@rnao.org; Jill Scarrow, Communications
Officer/Writer, RNAO, Phone: (416) 408-5604, jscarrow@rnao.org


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