The Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (#RNAO) released its policy platform in August, outlining its recommendations that will put health front-and-centre leading up to voting day on Oct. 19. Why health matters highlights the crucial areas that affect an individual’s ability to be healthy and outlines policies and programs to create healthier communities. RNAO’s platform also addresses key issues to improve the health system.
“Nurses are an integral part of our health system and our practice gives us a unique window into the broad range of factors that foster ‘healthy’ people and communities,” says RNAO President Vanessa Burkoski, adding that “…access to affordable housing, measures to reduce poverty, and a clean environment are just as important as dealing with security matters, but have received little attention so far.”
The association’s platform contains 17 recommendations that cover five areas: medicare, access to care, social determinants of the health, the environment, and fiscal capacity, says Burkoski, emphasizing that “…these will help members of the public choose the right candidate.”
“Canada’s health care system urgently needs the engagement of all political parties and a prime minister committed to working with the provinces and territories to strengthen medicare to include home care and a national pharmacare program,” says Doris Grinspun, RNAO’s chief executive officer. “Registered nurses (RN), nurse practitioners (NP) and nursing students are deeply committed to the principal of health for all, and will pressure the next government to fully restore the Interim Federal Health Program, which provides refugee claimants with access to primary care.”
RNAO notes health care was barely mentioned during the first all-party leaders’ debate on Aug. 6, and the association says it must receive more serious attention as the campaign unfolds.
“This election campaign is long enough for members of the public to look at the health issues that affect Canadians day-in and day-out. The federal government has a central role to play in ensuring people are healthy and that the system meets their care needs, regardless of whether they live in a small rural town in New Brunswick, a large urban city in Ontario, or an isolated First Nations community in northern Manitoba,” says Grinspun.
The platform is one of many ways nurses are speaking out during the election campaign. A series of all-candidates meetings will take place in federal ridings throughout Ontario with nurses leading spirited debates among MP hopefuls. RNAO is also releasing a questionnaire to all party leaders; and a comparison of the various party platforms ahead of voting day.
For a copy of the association’s federal election platform, or to find out more about getting involved and additional resources available to voters, visit RNAO.ca/election2015