Open Letter to Federal Health Minister Tony Clement

    As Federal Health Minister Tony Clement prepares to address members of
    the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) at its annual meeting
    (August 17-20) in Montreal, the Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario
    (RNAO) urges him to use this important occasion as an opportunity to
    stand up for the country's publicly-funded health-care system. Below is
    the text of a letter sent to his office today

    TORONTO, Aug. 15 /CNW/ - We are writing to you regarding your upcoming
remarks to the Canadian Medical Association's (CMA) annual meeting.
    We urge you to use this important occasion as an opportunity to stand up
for the country's publicly-funded health-care system.
    We represent registered nurses in Ontario and they are well aware of the
deep and abiding attachment citizens of this country have for our health-care
system and its guiding principle of universality. They like it because of its
basic fairness and because it makes good economic sense. However, Medicare is
under threat in this country. The current president of the CMA, Dr. Brian Day
is a vocal proponent of privatization of our publicly-funded system and the
owner of a for-profit surgical facility in Vancouver.
    When CMA members gather in Montreal next week, Dr. Day will pass the
mantle to Dr. Robert Ouellet, another physician who owns a network of
for-profit diagnostic clinics.
    We know many physicians across the country are opposed to privatization
but the CMA continues to advocate for measures that would inevitably lead to
more for-profit delivery in surgical centres, hospitals and clinics, and
ultimately dismantle Medicare.
    Minister, on behalf of Ontario's nurses, we urge you and the Harper
government to reject any measures that weaken Medicare and facilitate two-tier
health care.
    This country has built a system that provides all citizens with equal
access to care and delivers high outcomes in a cost-effective way. This is
good for patients and good for taxpayers.
    To protect Medicare, its principles and spirit, you must strongly enforce
the Canada Health Act. We also urge you to uphold Medicare by introducing
policies that not only strengthen but expand our public health-care system.
Let's increase access by developing a national, publicly-funded and controlled
pharmacare program to cover the cost of essential drugs. Let's invest in
health human resources, improved access to primary health care, continuing
care, and true interdisciplinary work to solve wait times. These are the
solutions that will ensure our health-care system will be there for today and
tomorrow's generations.
    Minister, we trust that you will stand up on the side of the public, and
will stand up for Medicare in your remarks to the CMA.

    With warmest regards,

    Wendy Fucile, RN, BScN, MPA, CHE
    President, Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario

    Doris Grinspun, RN, MSN, PhD (c), O.ONT
    Executive Director, Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario

    Prime Minister Stephen Harper
    Dr. Brian Day, President, CMA
    Dr. Robert Ouellet, President-elect, CMA

For further information:

For further information: Marion Zych, Director of Communications,
Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario, (416) 408-5605 (office), (647)
406-5605 (cellular)

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