2016 RNAO Executive Update

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Dear RNAO member,

The formidable power of RNAO’s 41,000 members was evident last week. Registered nurses (RN), nurse practitioners (NP) and nursing students brought their influence and impact to the provincial legislature for the association’s 16th Queen’s Park Day.

One hundred and eighty nursing leaders descended on the legislature Thursday, February 25 to meet with 60 members of provincial parliament (MPP) to share nurses’ solutions on important policy imperatives for the profession, health and the health-care system.

Led by RNAO president-elect Carol Timmings and CEO Doris Grinspun, nurses sat down with MPPs over breakfast to talk about RN replacement, NP compensation, independent RN prescribing, locating care co-ordinators in primary care, homelessness and affordable housing, and the environment.

RNAO members had the privilege to also watch Question Period from the public gallery. Many of the nurses were recognized by their MPPs during formal introductions and thanked for the important work they do on behalf of Ontarians. In the afternoon, members heard from Minister of Health Eric Hoskins, PC Health Critic Jeff Yurek, PC MPP Bill Walker, Deputy NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh and NDP MPP Cindy Forster. They also heard from the province’s auditor-general Bonnie Lysyk. As many of you may be aware, Ms. Lysyk is the province’s financial watchdog and carefully reviews how government money is spent. She was invited to talk about her review of Community Care Access Centres, which many of you know RNAO has recommended be devolved under the LHINs. Read details about RNAO’s Queen’s Park Day.

This year, Queen’s Park Day took place on the same day Ontario’s budget was unveiled.

Grinspun and several staff members were in the provincial budget lock-up to review the document before it was officially released by Finance Minister Charles Sousa. Read RNAO’s response to the budget.

The budget contained a number of items central to RNAO’s advocacy:

Health Services:

  • Ontario will invest 85 million dollars over three years to address the NP compensation gap in primary care.
  • The government is planning “to expand the scope of practice of registered nurses to allow them to prescribe some medications directly to patients.”
  • Given the complex needs of patients in acute care, the government increased its total funding for hospitals by 345 million dollars, which amounts to a 2.1 per cent increase.
  • Funding in community-based residential hospice and palliative care will be increased by 75 million dollars over three years.
  • Funding for community care has been increased by 250 million dollars.
  • Ten million dollars will be invested in the long-term care sector annually to help residents with dementia and those with other complex behaviours.
  • Cancer care services will receive an additional 130 million dollars over three years. Money will be earmarked for delivery of more cancer care services and for prevention.
  • Aboriginal health access centres will receive 1.3 million dollars annually to support expansion of information management systems so culturally appropriate care can be made available to those who need it.
  • To improve access to mental health services, Ontario is providing 1.5 million dollars to construct a new 30-bed youth residential treatment centre in Ottawa. It is also providing two millions dollars to 10 Indigenous organizations to make recommendations on how best to ensure the mental health needs of First Nation, Metis and urban indigenous people.
  • The government will make the shingles vaccination available free of charge to seniors between the ages of 65 and 70.
  • Five million dollars raised through a new tax on cartons of cigarettes will be earmarked for smoking cessation and prevention efforts.

Affordable housing and poverty:

  • A total of 178 million dollars is being invested for the construction of supportive housing units over three years. This funding includes subsidies and benefits for those who live in affordable housing.
  • Social assistance rates for those who receive Ontario Works and for those on the Ontario Disability Support Program will increase by 1.5 per cent. Single adults without children will also receive an additional 25 dollars per month.

Environment:

  • Ontario has announced it will introduce legislation to reduce the number of greenhouse gas emissions beginning in 2017 through a cap and trade program. Proceeds from this program will be invested in green initiatives to lower greenhouse gas emissions.

 

Please help boost RNAO’s voice on issues that matter. Please sign our action alert on RN replacement.

Almost 17,000 people, including members of the public, have responded to our call for an end to RN replacement. Help us keep up the momentum. We can easily reach 20,000 with your help. If you haven’t had a chance to make your voice heard, please act now.
Best regards,

Vanessa Burkoski RN, BScN, MScN, DHA
President, RNAO

Doris Grinspun, RN, MSN, PhD, LLD(hon), O.ONT.
Chief Executive Officer, RNAO

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