Nurses lobby MPPs during Queen's Park on the Road tour
The Registered Nurses Association of Ontario (RNAO) wants the province to ensure an adequate supply of Registered Nurses, and fully utilize their knowledge and skills to increase access to quality care that is centred around the patient.
That is one policy among a laundry list the RNAO said they'd like to see enacted in the province. They presented the list to Nickel Betl MPP France Gélinas Feb. 6 as part of the Queen's Park on the Road tour.
RNAO personnel across the province are doing the same thing in their respective community.
The RNAO, the professional association representing the province's registered nurses, normally meets with MPPs at Queen's Park to present their policies each winter.
This year, however, they're visiting them at their constituency offices because the legislature is still prorogued.
Local RNAO reps also plan to meet with Sudbury MPP and Minister of Northern Development and Mines Rick Bartolucci, who has just announced he is stepping down from the MNDM portfolio effective Feb. 11.
“It's always important that our MPPs in Ontario are aware of the issues that nurses are concerned with,” said Paul-André Gauthier, the RNAO's northeastern Ontario representative,.
He met with Gélinas along with Jane Keown, co-chair of the RNAO's Sudbury chapter.
The RNAO is also asking the province to:
-Reduce poverty so people have a greater chance of staying healthy and preventing chronic conditions;
-Clean up the environment;
-Ensure every Ontarian has faster access to primary care in community health centres, nurse practitioner-led clinics and family health teams;
Gauthier said the RNAO is touting initiatives such as increasing the minimum wage, transforming the social assistance system and closing all remaining coal plants, because poverty and the environment have a direct impact on people's health.
The RNAO is also asking that 9,000 more RNs be hired by 2015, and 70 per cent of all nurses work full time.
Gauthier said that's because there will soon be a shortage of RNs because so many are close to retirement.
He said Ontario has the second worse RN-to-population in the country, with 70.8 RNs per 10,000 people, with the national average sitting at 83.4 RNs per 10,000 people.
It's difficult to attract new grads to stay in the province, especially in Northern Ontario, if there's only part-time work available, Gauthier said.
It's always important that our MPPs in Ontario are aware of the issues that nurses are concerned with.
northeastern Ontario representative, RNAO
Rejecting efforts to privatize health-care delivery and committing to not-for-profit health-care in areas such as home care is also one of the important aspects of the RNAO policy paper, Gauthier said.
“If we look at the money we're investing in health care, we want to make sure that money is used for health-care services, and not for people to make money on the backs of other people,” he said.
To fund these initiatives, the RNAO proposes “people pay their fair share of taxes, because tax cuts for the wealthy and cutting spending for social programs hurt our economy.”
The association also said “green taxes” should be imposed “to help pay for the damage polluters cause.”
In the majority of cases, Gélinas, the NDP's health-care critic, said her party agrees with the policies put forward by the RNAO, something which pleases the nurses' association reps.
“The NDP is really supportive of the positions we have,” Gauthier said.
Gélinas said the RNAO campaign is very effective, and she wouldn't be surprised if at least some of their policies end up being adopted by all three provincial parties, or even in the upcoming provincial budget.
“Here's how a change in policies happens,” she said.
“It happens when people like them come and visit with their MPP, explain their situation and explain what they want to see changed. It doesn't happen overnight. Queen's Park moves at the rate of a sleepy turtle, but it does move.”
When asked which of the RNAO's policies is most important, Gélinas said she thinks their poverty-reduction plan is significant.
“The beginning of their talk really, really focuses on poverty, the minimum wage, and on Ontario Works,” Gélinas said. “It shows how the gap between the rich and the poor and the taxation system has an effect.”
For more information about the RNAO's policy statement, visit www.rnao.ca.