RNAO calls for investments in affordable housing

TORONTO, Nov. 19, 2015 /CNW/ - The nursing group known for its advocacy about the social determinants of health is calling on Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne to invest in affordable housing.

Members of the Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario (RNAO), which represents RNs, NPs and nursing students, sent an open letter to both leaders just days before National Housing Day, which takes place on Nov. 22.

"This is both a health issue and a human rights issue," says Vanessa Burkoski, RNAO's president. "We are the only country in the G-7 without a national housing strategy. This is appalling given the evidence that shows that on any given night, more than 35,000 people across the country are homeless, and in Ontario alone, more than 168,000 households are on waiting lists for affordable housing."

RNAO says recent steps Ontario has taken to define homelessness and set a target to end it within 10 years are welcome. However, need is outpacing resources, which is why nurses are calling for dedicated investment. "If Ontario commits to investing one per cent of its overall budget, it could create new affordable housing stock and address the backlog of existing housing units that are in need of repair," adds Burkoski. "That's concrete action that would improve the lives and health of thousands of people in the province."

The association says it's pleased with the federal Liberal platform pledge to invest in national housing and adds that a commitment to spend at least $2 billion annually more would go a long way toward alleviating the suffering many individuals and families face who lack an adequate place to call home. "National Housing Day is the perfect time to show the kind of new partnership that will bring resolutions to one of Canada's shameful issues," says RNAO's CEO Doris Grinspun.

Nurses are expected to attend events organized in cities across the country. In Ontario, they will be held in Oakville, Toronto and Peterborough. "RNAO members will be doing their part to put pressure and mobilize the political will to solve Canada's housing crisis," says Grinspun. "We want to ensure our voices are heard on behalf of those who aren't being heard despite their dire needs."  

This year marks the Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario's (RNAO) 90th anniversary. 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: For more information, or to arrange an interview with an RN, NP or nursing student, please contact: Marion Zych, Director of Communications, Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario (RNAO), 416-408-5605 (office), 647-406-5605 (cellular)


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