Premiers have abandoned discussions on our public health care system, nurses say

    Health professionals' think- tank prescribes leadership to Council of
    Federation on health Issues

    QUEBEC CITY, July 18 /CNW Telbec/ - Where are the Premiers and the
Council of Federation on the most acute issues facing our Canadian public
health care system? Issues like: Skills' shortages, staff retention, working
condition and workforce renewal issues. The effects of creeping privatization.
The impacts of the rising costs of prescription drugs.
    The question is being asked by Linda Silas, president of the Canadian
Federation of Nurses Unions (CFNU) and Lina Bonamie, president of the
Fédération interprofessionnelle de la santé du Québec (FIQ), who represent
215 000 health professionals from coast to coast. The question follows the
release of a document, titled "Achieving Our Health Care Vision: Key
Considerations for Premiers," summarizing a one-day think-tank held in Québec
City on the eve of the Premiers' meeting. Focussing on the most pressing
issues facing our public health care system, the think-tank gathered some
seventy-five health professionals, experts, academics, administrators and
executives of various professional organizations in the health care field.
    "The people that make the system work, for Canadians who need it, feel
let down by our Premiers' silence on the real issues," says Linda Silas,
president of the CFNU. "For instance, right now all we get from the Premiers
is silence on human resources shortages in health care. Every day of silence
on such an issue is a betrayal of Canadians' pride in their health care
    "Sustaining the public health care system and the people's confidence in
the system is a central item in the Premiers' job description," says FIQ
president Lina Bonamie. "The Premiers are irresponsible to run away from this
important duty."

    The "Key Considerations for Premiers" are that:

    - Privatization and P3s are not the way to go.
    - Issues of retention and renewal of Canada's health care workforce have
      reached crisis levels in many parts of the country and need to be
      addressed through a concerted, pan-Canadian approach that involves all
      governments and includes:

      - Creating funds -with a return in service component - to cover the
        education costs of badly needed health professionals;
      - Revamping the apprenticeship program under Employment Insurance to
        include health care professionals and enable them to maintain and
        upgrade their skills;
      - Creating a culture of safety through Healthy Workplace Initiative.

    - A national pharmacare program is key to keeping health care costs
      manageable. Provinces need to work together and with the federal
      government to realize this end.
    - Canadians expect wise, prudent and cautious spending of public funds.
      Greater transparency and informed public debate are needed about how
      our health care dollars are spent.

    The CFNU and FIQ leaders both stressed that "there is an urgency to these
issues that no single province can usefully tackle alone. The Premiers forgot
why they created the Council of the Federation work together on these very
issues. And that is sad."
    The complete document "Achieving Our Health Care Vision: Key
Considerations for Premiers," is posted on and

    The CFNU represents over 158,000 members and associate members in nine
provinces. The Fédération interprofessionnelle de la santé du Québec
represents 57,000 nursing and cardiorespiratory care professionals in Quebec.
Together, the CFNU and FIQ represent over 215,000 Health Care Professionals.

For further information:

For further information: CFNU: Linda Silas, (613) 859-4314; Jean Wolff,
(613) 878-6040; Christopher Schulz, (613) 816-9062; FIQ: Sara Lapointe, (418)

Organization Profile

Fédération interprofessionnelle de la santé du Québec - FIQ

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Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions

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