TORONTO, Feb. 23, 2016 /CNW/ - At a pivotal moment for the province's health system, 175 registered nurses (RN), nurse practitioners (NP) and nursing students will meet with 56 MPPs this week to offer policy changes that will lead to a healthier Ontario.
Anchoring the province's health system in primary care – including care co-ordination and health system navigation – and eliminating the costly administrative redundancies of Community Care Access Centres (CCACs), will be key messages as the Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario (RNAO) visits the provincial legislature for its 16th Queen's Park Day on Thursday, Feb. 25.
Nurses will also call on their elected officials to stop the replacement of RNs with less qualified care providers, allow RNs to prescribe medications independently, and provide equitable compensation to NPs in all sectors.
This year's event follows the December release of the Patients First report from Ontario's Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, which made it clear that significant health system reforms were on the horizon. Many of the proposed changes announced by Health Minister Eric Hoskins align with recommendations from RNAO's Enhancing Community Care for Ontarians (ECCO) report, which calls for major health system restructuring to improve timely access to quality care – especially at the community level.
"The time is right to rethink our health system, and RNAO has laid out a foundation for more responsive and efficient health-care delivery," says RNAO President Vanessa Burkoski. "As the province moves forward with health system improvements, we are delighted to have the ear of so many of Ontario's policymakers to share nurses' solutions."
In breakfast meetings with MPPs, RNAO members will urge them to put an end to RN replacement – a cost-saving measure where RN positions are being replaced by less qualified staff. In recent months, hundreds of RN positions have been eliminated at several health-care organizations.
"We know that both nurses and the public want to see an end to RN replacement because it compromises people's lives," says RNAO Chief Executive Officer Doris Grinspun, noting that more than 17,000 people have joined the association's campaign to stop RN replacement by writing letters to political leaders.
Nurses will also ask MPPs to enable RNs to independently prescribe medication, following more than 15 years of successful RN prescribing in the United Kingdom. At last year's Queen's Park Day, Hoskins and Premier Kathleen Wynne committed to moving forward with RN prescribing, after RNAO advised it will lead to better access and more efficient health services. Now the association says RN prescribers must not be tied down with red tape.
MPPs should also recognize the value of NPs working in all sectors by ensuring wage parity, Burkoski says. Primary care NPs have gone without a pay raise for nine years, which when adjusted for inflation, translates to a 16 per cent pay cut. "Without wage parity, we risk losing NPs in primary care, where they are central to ensuring speedy access to quality care for all Ontarians," says Burkoski, who is herself an NP.
Nurses will recommend concrete strategies to deal with the social and environmental factors that affect health. RNAO believes government must invest in affordable and sustainable housing for all Ontarians. Nurses will also ask for decisive action to promote public transportation and effective carbon pricing.
"The goal of any health system is to keep people healthy, so we must invest in healthy policies that will impact people long before they need a health-care provider," says Grinspun. "Once we address all factors influencing health, and enable RNs and NPs to work to their full scope of practice, we will be on the path toward a more efficient and patient-centred system."
In an afternoon meeting, nurses will hear speeches and participate in question-and-answers sessions with Ontario's health minister, representatives from the opposition parties, and the province's auditor general.
- RNAO Chief Executive Officer Doris Grinspun, President-Elect Carol Timmings and 175 RNs, NPs and nursing students
- 56 Ontario MPPs at 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. breakfast meetings, and in an afternoon session.
- Speeches from:
- Eric Hoskins, minister of health, at 12:20 p.m.
- Jeff Yurek, PC health critic, at 1:45 p.m.
- Jagmeet Singh, NDP deputy party leader, and Cindy Forster, NDP MPP, at 2:45 p.m.
- Bonnie Lysyk, auditor general of Ontario, at 3:45 p.m.
- RNAO's 16th Queen's Park Day
- Carr Hall, Father Madden Auditorium, 100 St. Joseph St., Toronto, Ont. M5S 1J4
Members of the media are welcome to attend.
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-care 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.
SOURCE Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario
For further information: or to arrange an interview with a nurse, please contact: Daniel Punch, Communications Officer, RNAO, Phone: 416-408-5606, Toll free: 1-800-268-7199 ext. 250, dpunch@RNAO.ca