RNs urge Ontarians to remember that their vote on Oct. 10 can help create a healthier society

    TORONTO, Oct. 1 /CNW/ - With election day less than two weeks away,
nurses are urging Ontarians to cast their vote. "There is a lot at stake and
we want Ontarians to know RNs' perspectives on the important issues that will
affect their health when they choose a new government, and when they vote on a
referendum for a new electoral system," says Registered Nurses' Association of
Ontario (RNAO) President Mary Ferguson-Pare.
    Ferguson-Pare says health care and issues affecting people's health are
top of mind among Ontarians, and nurses' perspectives can help the public make
an informed decision. In May, RNAO released a report outlining policies and
programs that would strengthen our health-care system and lead to a healthier
society. The report contains recommendations in five key areas: social
determinants of health, the environment, Medicare, the nursing workforce, and
fiscal capacity. RNAO shared these ideas with all political parties and they
adopted some of the recommendations.
    "Today, we judge what each party is saying to determine if they are in
sync with the views of nurses," says Doris Grinspun, Executive Director of
RNAO. "To help nurses and the public, we have compared our platform with that
of the four major political parties. We examined each party's plan to reduce
poverty, improve our environment, protect and strengthen our Medicare system
and end the nursing shortage. We know that our proposals will require
additional funding, and that is why we say 'no' to tax cuts and 'yes' to
making poverty history, making our environment greener, and strengthening our
health-care system for all Ontarians," she adds.
    The RNAO platform identifies poverty as a crucial determinant of health
and calls for a comprehensive poverty reduction strategy, including an
immediate raise of the minimum wage to $10 an hour. It also focuses on
environmental health, and calls for strong measures to eliminate harmful
toxins, chemicals and pesticides and for a comprehensive plan to tackle
carcinogens. RNAO also wants assurance that the country's universal, publicly
funded health-care system will be enhanced and not undermined by those who
pursue profits. Nurses oppose private for-profit clinics and public-private
partnerships because the evidence shows they result in higher costs for
taxpayers and worse health outcomes for patients.
    "A vital way to strengthen Medicare is to end the nursing shortage and
ensure that nurses are working to their full potential," says Grinspun. This
includes opening at least 15 nurse-led clinics; adding 9,000 more RNs,
including more nurse practitioners, to the system; achieving 70 per cent
full-time employment for all RNs in Ontario; guaranteeing full-time employment
to all new graduates; creating incentives to keep nurses 55 and older at work
with strategies that allow them to spend 80 per cent of their time on direct
patient care and another 20 per cent mentoring new graduates; and equalizing
pay and working conditions across all health-care sectors. Grinspun says these
measures will ensure that we are making the best use of nurses' knowledge to
provide the public with the care they need and deserve.
    "We want voters, including nurses, to look at the issues we've identified
and how each party plans to address them before casting their ballot on
Oct. 10," says Ferguson-Pare.
    RNAO says voters should also remember that in addition to choosing a
candidate in this election, they will decide on Ontario's electoral system.
They can choose between the existing system or to adopt Mixed Member
Proportional (MMP), a new one proposed by an assembly of citizens. "This is an
incredible opportunity for citizens across this province to have a say in how
they wish to be represented. We are being given a choice and we have a
responsibility to inform ourselves about this important referendum," says
Ferguson-Pare. She adds that RNAO supports MMP because it will encourage a
greater diversity of opinion in the provincial legislature.
    To view RNAO's comparison chart, please visit www.rnao.org

    The Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario (RNAO) is the professional
association representing registered nurses wherever they practise 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,
Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario (RNAO), Phone: (647) 406-5605
(cellular) or (416) 408-5605 (office)

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