RNAO asks nurses and the public to put health first when casting their vote

    TORONTO, Oct. 9 /CNW/ - The Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario
(RNAO) is urging nurses and the public to consider the platforms of the major
parties in the upcoming federal election and vote for the party they believe
puts health first.
    With the release of the Conservative platform on Tuesday, and just days
away from the vote, today the association released its analysis of the
political parties' platforms. The report compares their proposals in several
categories including healthy communities, the environment, protecting and
strengthening the public health-care system, and providing better access to
    "As nurses, our definition of 'health' is broad. Poverty, housing and the
environment - these are all crucial areas that shape and influence an
individual's ability to be healthy," says Wendy Fucile, RNAO's President. "We
are asking nurses and members of the public to read this document and reflect
on the various proposals offered by the parties before Oct. 14."
    RNAO Executive Director Doris Grinspun says the comparison provides
voters with a way to demand that candidates be accountable and transparent on
key issues. "This is the third time in four years that Canadians are going to
the polls. Now, more than ever, we need a government that believes health care
is a right, not a privilege," she says. "Canadians deserve a strong and
sustainable public health-care system that will look after them and their
    RNAO's analysis reveals the following positions:


    The Conservative platform does not address poverty. The Liberals, NDP and
Green Party each recognize poverty as a significant problem and offer
solutions, including hard targets to reduce poverty levels that are consistent
with the 25 in 5 coalition, a network of groups - including RNAO - that are
working to eliminate poverty in Ontario.


    While all four major parties address housing in their platforms, only the
NDP and Green Party commit to a fully funded, affordable housing strategy.


    The Conservative platform falls short of RNAO's expectations because its
targets use 2006 levels as a baseline. The Liberals, NDP and Green Party offer
proposals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that are consistent with the
Kyoto Protocol and RNAO's position. All four parties offer proposals on
investments in renewable forms of energy.

    Health-care professionals:

    All of the major parties recognize the need to train more nurses and
doctors to deal with national shortages in our health-care system. Yesterday,
Prime Minister Stephen Harper elaborated on the Conservative Party's
commitment to health providers, including $5 million to encourage physicians
practising abroad to return to Canada, funding for 50 new residency positions,
and establishing pilot projects to look at better ways to recruit and retain
nurses. The Liberals would establish a Doctors and Nurses Fund to increase the
number of residency positions, remove bottlenecks to licensing new health-care
professionals, and forgive $10,000 per year of student debt for those who
commit to practice in underserviced communities. The NDP has committed to
training 50 per cent more nurses and doctors and forgiving student loans of
health professionals who dedicate the first ten years of their careers to
family practice. This would add 28,000 more health professionals to the
system. The Green Party would also provide student loan forgiveness to
health-care professionals who work in rural and family practice settings, and
hire staff to reduce hospital wait lists.


    The Conservative Party's platform does not mention specific ways to
protect and strengthen the country's health-care system. The Liberals, NDP and
Green Party express firm commitments to enforce the letter and the spirit of
the Canada Health Act. The NDP and Green Party proposals go even further
outlining steps to ensure delivery of care on a not-for-profit basis as well
as measures to prevent provinces from using public money to promote two-tier


    A national, publicly funded and controlled pharmacare program is a key
demand of the RNAO and Canadians across the country who are faced with the
prohibitively high cost of essential drugs. The Conservative Party is silent
on the issue. Both the Liberals and NDP commit to a plan for catastrophic drug
coverage. The NDP will phase in additional drug coverage for all citizens in
cooperation with the provinces. The Green Party commits to a cost-benefit
analysis of pharmacare.

    The full report can be found at www.rnao.org.

    The Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario (RNAO) is the professional
association representing registered nurses in Ontario. Since 1925, RNAO has
lobbied 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 further information:

For further information: Marion Zych, Director of Communications, RNAO,
Phone: (647) 406-5605 or (416) 408-5605, E-mail: mzych@rnao.org

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