RNs say politicians must put health first during federal election campaign

    TORONTO, Sept. 18 /CNW/ - A top nursing organization is calling on all
parties to put health and health care on the agenda during this federal
election campaign.
    The Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario (RNAO) says the issue
consistently ranks as a top concern among Canadians. For example, in a recent
Angus Reid poll, 78 per cent of respondents said health care is a very
important factor they consider when deciding which party to support. Yet, so
far in this campaign, the issue is not getting the attention it deserves.
    In a report being released today called Putting Health First, RNAO
pinpoints the crucial areas that shape and influence an individual's ability
to be healthy. It outlines policies and programs that would create healthier
communities, promote a healthy environment, build a stronger public
health-care system, and provide better access to health-care professionals.
    "Registered nurses know that issues such as poverty, affordable housing
and the environment are crucial in determining one's health," says RNAO
President Wendy Fucile. "It's a national disgrace that one in 12 children live
in poverty in this country. Our recommendations look at what needs to be done
now to reverse this inequality."
    RNAO's report also examines the investments needed to strengthen and
sustain Canada's publicly funded health-care system.
    "Our proposals set the stage for an important discussion that has been
lacking in this campaign, and we urge the federal political parties to take a
serious look at our recommendations and adopt them in their election
platforms," says RNAO Executive Director Doris Grinspun. "We also want voters
to know where nurses stand on issues that will determine what kind of country
we live in."

    Key recommendations in the report include:

    -   Enforce the Canada Health Act and attach firm conditions to federal
        health transfers to stop the growth of two-tier health care.

    -   Introduce a national, publicly funded and publicly controlled
        pharmacare program covering essential drugs.

    -   Invest $250 million, phased in annually, to create 10,000 new
        full-time RN positions across Canada and provide incentives to create
        healthy work environments.

    -   Phase in $135 million per year for nursing education to expand the
        number of qualified faculty in Canadian nursing programs, increase
        the number of nursing seats, and provide more clinical placement
        opportunities for nursing students.

    -   Protect the public's health by hiring 1,000 additional inspectors and
        veterinarians to help safeguard the country's food supply, improve
        compliance and make sure this summer's listeriosis outbreak never
        happens again.

    -   Implement a comprehensive national anti-poverty strategy, including:
        increases to the federal minimum wage; increases to the Canada Child
        Tax Benefit; investments in early learning and child care; and
        funding for a national housing program.

    -   Achieve deep reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, price carbon
        appropriately, and increase investments in renewable energy and
        energy efficient programs so that Canada can meet its obligations
        under the Kyoto Protocol.

    -   Ensure the fiscal capacity to deliver essential health, social and
        environmental services by rejecting further tax cuts until
        alternative progressive revenue sources, such as those that encourage
        environmental responsibility, are found.

    -   Ensure all international and inter-provincial trade and investment
        agreements include strong protections for health care, environment,
        human rights and labour standards, and that they do not restrict
        governments' ability to regulate in the public interest.

    The association's full report can be found at RNAO's website at

    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, Phone:
(416) 408-5605/1-800-268-7199 ext. 209, Cell: (647) 406-5605, Email:

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