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Federal budget a ‘missed opportunity’ for health system transformation – News Release

March 5, 2010 - The Canadian Nurses Association (CNA) feels that the federal budget does not go far enough at what it sees as a critical juncture for health care in Canada.

“We are pleased to see that health transfer payments to the provinces will be maintained, particularly at a time when provincial and territorial governments are struggling to cope with deficits in their own budgets, but we see this federal budget as a missed opportunity to initiate a much-needed transformation of the health system,” said CNA president Kaaren Neufeld.

The upsurge in chronic illnesses, aging population and financial constraints mean Canada needs to deliver health care differently. “In order to maintain the long-term sustainability of the health system, we should be making strategic investments that will re-orient our approach towards one that focuses on keeping people healthy,” said Neufeld. “The budget contains positive measures surrounding health promotion, illness and injury prevention, and active living, but more must be done.”

CNA CEO Rachel Bard echoed that argument. “While the government’s announcement of new money for health research is a step in the right direction, the amounts promised are far too modest to fuel the significant changes needed to build the health-care system of tomorrow,” she said. “It is important that health-care decisions be based on solid evidence and supported by tools that facilitate new and innovative models of care delivery.”
Electronic health records (EHRs) are a prime example of the kind of tools needed to leverage a major transformation in the delivery of health care. While the budget made good on a promise to release $500 million for Canada Health Infoway, more needs to be done to ensure EHRs will support inter-professional care and community health services such as public health clinics, home care and long-term care.

“We fear that the announced cuts to federal departmental budgets will squeeze out programs that could have a positive effect on heath system renewal over the long term,” said Bard.

CNA is the national professional voice of registered nurses in Canada. It is a federation of 11 provincial and territorial nursing associations and colleges representing over 135,000 registered nurses. CNA believes that the sustainability of a quality, publicly funded, not-for-profit health system rests upon a vibrant nursing workforce.

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For more information, contact:

Paul Watson, Communications Coordinator
Canadian Nurses Association
613-237-2159 x283
613-697-7507 mobile
E-mail: pwatson@cna-aiic.ca