Nurses to lead national strategy on aging and health

OTTAWA, Aug. 23 /CNW/ - The Canadian Nurses Association (CNA) is poised to take on a leadership role in developing a national strategy for aging and health as Canadians reveal they are increasingly worried about the future of their health-care system.

As part of its strategic direction to advance healthy public policy, CNA is committed to spearheading innovations that will assure the sustainability of medicare. An Ipsos-Reid survey commissioned by the Canadian Medical Association found that "80% are concerned the quality of health care in Canada will decline as a result of increased strain on the health care system as the Baby Boom Generation gets older" and requires more health-care services. At the same time, the survey goes on to say that "very few are willing to pay more taxes, pass the cost on to Baby Boomers or cut health promotion programs to fund the required changes."

"Although Canadians are bracing for higher out-of-pocket costs surrounding health care, this does not necessarily have to occur," said Rachel Bard, CNA's chief executive officer. "Proponents of two-tier health care have been continually fueling the notion that private insurance and user fees are the only answers. There are, in fact, other alternatives. Nurses and other health professionals have a responsibility to bring all the options to light and help Canadians decide what the future of health care should be."

CNA firmly believes that Canadians can - and should - address the issue of the changing health needs of an aging population within the framework of Medicare and the Canada Health Act. A well-planned, long-term aging and health strategy is a better answer than the customary call to move toward more privatization. Strategic investments made today in areas such as primary health and community care, health promotion and better management of chronic illness can yield important health system savings that would assure the sustainability of the health-care system and reduce the increasing burden being placed on the families of the elderly and their families.

There is also evidence to suggest that baby boomers are getting an unfair share of the blame for rising health-care budgets. A study released this month by the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions, for example, suggests that tax cuts have been eroding the government's ability to adequately fund health care. "The time has come for us to look at the evidence and plan for the future. Canadians need to collectively decide how to best allocate the 151 billion dollars they spend on health care. Making the right choices will ensure that medicare will serve us well for generations to come," said Bard.

CNA is the national professional voice of registered nurses in Canada. It is a federation of 11 provincial and territorial nursing associations and colleges representing 139,893 registered nurses. CNA believes that the sustainability of a quality, publicly funded, not-for-profit health system rests upon a vibrant nursing workforce.

SOURCE Canadian Nurses Association

For further information: For further information:

Lisa Brazeau
Director, Corporate Communications
Canadian Nurses Association
Cell: 613-864-1371
E-mail: lbrazeau@cna-aiic.ca

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