2015 Ontario Budget heavy on infrastructure, light on health care

MISSISSAUGA, ON, April 23, 2015 /CNW/ - While the Ontario Government has been promising to transform the health care system into one that puts the needs of patients at its centre, the 2015 Budget fails to deliver in a number of critical areas.

"Unfortunately, there is very little that is new or transformative in this budget when it comes to health care," says Dianne Martin, Executive Director of the Registered Practical Nurses Association of Ontario (RPNAO). "At the end of the day, it comes down to priorities. The government has committed more than $11 billion for hospital capital grants. And while this infrastructure is badly needed, the people who will be expected to provide care in these new, state-of-the-art buildings will continue to suffer from increased workloads, stress, burnout and the moral distress associated with watching in frustration as their patients fail to get the level and quality of care they deserve – a direct result of the government continuing to hold the line on hospitals' base operating funding."

The association says it supports the government's continued focus on home care, including a $40 million investment over four years for about 10,000 more rehabilitation therapy visits for seniors. However, the proposed investments in the community care sector are simply inadequate to meet the needs associated with an aging population with increasingly complex health care needs. "There is an alarming shortage of care providers to meet the need in the home care sector right now and this problem will only become more pronounced as the province's demographics continue to shift," says Martin. "While the government has committed to increase funding in the community care sector by about five per cent per year over the next three years, this does not come close to meeting the real need that's out there, particularly in light of what amounts to funding cuts to acute care."

RPNAO supports a number of the health care initiatives put forward by the provincial government, including its continued funding for mental health and addiction services and additional support to improve the quality of palliative care in Ontario. We're also encouraged by the government's commitment to have all categories of nurses work to their full scope of practice, reflecting the understanding that RPNs are highly skilled professionals that are part of the solution to the challenges facing health care. These are all positive steps that we applaud. At the same time, however, we are approaching a crisis situation at the point-of-care in Ontario and nurses are telling us that much more needs to be done in order to provide patients with the care they truly need."

About the Registered Practical Nurses Association of Ontario

Founded in 1958, RPNAO is the voice of practical nursing in Ontario. There are approximately 35,000 RPNs working in Ontario, playing a vital role in the province's health care system. For more information about RPNAO and how RPNs contribute to Ontario's health care system, please visit rpnao.org.

SOURCE Registered Practical Nurses Association of Ontario

For further information: Dianne Martin, Executive Director, Tel: (905) 602-4664 ext. 226

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