RNAO urges governments to broker health transfers that secure Medicare's future

TORONTO, Jan. 4, 2017 /CNW/ - With the future of Canadian health care at stake, the Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario (RNAO) says federal, provincial and territorial governments must come back to the table urgently and negotiate health transfers that will sustain and strengthen the country's health system for today and generations to come.

The provinces, territories and the federal government have been working to draft a new Health Accord, after the previous 10-year agreement expired in 2014. But the two sides have come to an impasse over annual increases to the Canada Health Transfer (CHT) from the federal government.

The provinces and territories hoped a new agreement would continue the six per cent annual funding increases established in the previous Health Accord, and have said anything less than 5.2 per cent would not keep up with the most conservative estimates of health costs and related health spending growth over the coming years. The federal government's most recent offer included annual increases of 3.5 per cent, plus time-limited transfers tied to spending on home care and mental health.

RNAO has long insisted the new Health Accord must include six per cent annual increases to the CHT, as well as a national pharmacare program, and targeted funding to strengthen home care, mental health and interprofessional primary care. The association says the federal government's current offer simply isn't enough to keep the health system running effectively, let alone strengthen community care.

"Nurses already work in a health system constrained by financial pressure and budget tightening," says RNAO President Carol Timmings. "Without adequate and reliable funding through the CHT, we won't be able to provide the high-quality care Canadians need and expect. This is a top priority for Canadians and their nurses."

On Jan. 3, Ontario joined six other provinces and all three territories in sending a letter to federal Finance Minster Bill Morneau and federal Health Minister Jane Philpott asking the federal government to come back to the negotiating table. RNAO Chief Executive Officer Doris Grinspun says it's crucial both sides continue negotiations, and work toward a deal that positions the health system for future success.

"With a federal government that firmly believes in strengthening our not-for-profit health system, and provinces committed to building on shared priorities including home care and mental health by accepting targeted conditions on health funding, the stage is set to capitalize on this pivotal moment in the history of Canadian health care," Grinspun says. "Yet without the right funding, these efforts will fail. RNAO is calling for a minimum of 5.2 per cent annual CHT increase to build the next phase of Medicare."

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/Writer, Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario, 416-408-5606, dpunch@RNAO.ca

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http://www.rnao.org

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