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Nurses call for shift in health-care priorities – News Release

Ottawa, March 3, 2011 – Canadian Nurses Association (CNA) president Judith Shamian and Nurses Association of New Brunswick (NANB) president Martha Vickers announced today that their organizations will join forces to press for changes to Canada’s health system.

“Proponents of for-profit health care are telling Canadians that our health system is unsustainable and that more privatization is the answer. Nurses don’t buy either of these claims,” said Shamian, who is on a cross-country tour to engage nurses, other health-care providers and government decision-makers in a national dialogue on the future of Canada’s health system.

“We need to see a shift of resources towards keeping people well and out of hospital,” said Vickers. “It’s more cost-effective to invest in areas such as health promotion, disease prevention, early diagnosis and treatment by, for example, providing better access to primary care from a family doctor, a nurse practitioner or a community health clinic.”

The nurses’ message got a nod of approval yesterday from New Brunswick Premier David Alward, who met with both organizations and told them that the prevention of chronic disease is high on his government’s list of priorities. Approximately 77 per cent of New Brunswickers reported having been diagnosed with one or more chronic diseases such as diabetes, arthritis and asthma – conditions that are eating up more and more health-care resources.

The organization presidents also met yesterday with nursing students who were gaining practical experience alongside a nurse practitioner at the Community Health Clinic in Fredericton, which provides care to homeless and disadvantaged people. “These are the people that often fall through the cracks in the health system because of poor documentation, mental health issues and a general lack of funding,” said Shamian. “The students are learning a valuable lesson about the direct link between health and socio-economic factors.”

In meetings with officials from the New Brunswick Health ministry, Shamian stressed the need for the province to take the nursing community’s recommendations to the table in upcoming federal/provincial negotiations for the 2014 Canada health accord. “The nursing community sees the accord as an opportunity for governments at all levels to look at health care differently and tackle the root causes of what ails health care instead of merely treating the symptoms.”

CNA is the national professional voice of registered nurses in Canada. A federation of 11 provincial and territorial nursing associations and colleges representing 143,843 registered nurses, CNA advances the practice and profession of nursing to improve health outcomes and strengthen Canada’s publicly funded, not-for-profit health system.

The Nurses Association of New Brunswick is a professional, regulatory body representing 8,900 registered nurses and nurse practitioners. NANB is responsible for advancing and maintaining the standards of nursing in the province, for governing and regulating those offering nursing care.

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Media inquiries:
External Communications Coordinator CNA Media Relations
Canadian Nurses Association
E-mail: media@cna-aiic.ca
Tel: 1-800-361-8404, ext. 553

Jennifer Whitehead Manager of Communications and Government Relations
Nurses Association of New Brunswick
E-mail: jwhitehead@nanb.nb.ca
Tel: 506-459-2852