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Canadian nurses want a federal budget that prioritizes the health of our nation

Ottawa, March 28, 2012 — As Canada’s health-care system evolves to meet the needs of Canadians, the Canadian Nurses Association (CNA) believes the federal government must demonstrate leadership by supporting and advancing action to establish national quality mechanisms to improve health system performance. CNA hopes the 2012 federal budget will include key initiatives aimed at accountability and health-care performance from coast to coast.

“Canadians look to the federal government for leadership on matters so fundamental to their well-being and safety such as health,” says CNA president Judith Shamian. “The opportunity to improve the health of our nation and chart the course for the best health system and the best health outcomes in the world rests in the hands of this federal government.”

Canada’s Health Accountability Plan [PDF, 99.7 KB], a pre-budget brief that CNA submitted to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance, recommends that the federal government create a set of focused, comparable, pan-Canadian indicators and targets that drive the improvement of health outcomes and systems performance. Combined with collaboration, accountability and innovation from the provinces and territories, CNA believes this is the path needed to advance the health system transformation and quality agendas.
“True accountability means establishing and meeting targets that will improve our population’s health, while ensuring good value for investments and the sustainability of our publicly funded, not-for-profit health-care system,” says Shamian. “Canadians deserve the best outcomes possible from every dollar spent on health care.”

In pre-budget consultations, CNA presented a focused agenda with three key recommendations for health-care transformation that called on the federal government to:

  • strengthen accountability by establishing health and system improvement goals based on a series of priority quality indicators with targets across the full health-care system;
  • ensure the capacity to meet the needs of Canadians by stabilizing and securing Canada’s health workforce today and for the long term; and
  • improve health equity and reduce health disparity by investing in greater access to community-based health services (e.g., primary care, ambulatory care and home care).

In addition to advocating for the need to report publicly based on meaningful quality indicators, CNA asserted a strong stance in pre-budget consultations on ensuring equitable and timely access to health-care services. CNA reminded all governments that evidence-based investments are critical to address root causes of poor health, especially among populations with low income and education, and barriers to quality housing, education and vital community services.

To transform the health system and the health of our nation, CNA is urging governments to redistribute investments into primary health care options such as nurse practitioner-led clinics and community health centres, which strengthen primary care through interprofessional teams working to their full scopes of practice, emphasize health promotion, reduce dependence on costly acute-care services and greatly contribute overall to a healthier population.

Recognizing the professional knowledge and expertise of Canada’s nurses, the Council of the Federation invited CNA to participate in the health care innovation working group, which is aimed at driving a collaborative process for transformation and innovation to help ensure health systems provide better health outcomes and better value for Canadians. CNA will join the premiers of Saskatchewan and Prince Edward Island, provincial and territorial health ministers, the Canadian Medical Association and other health-care providers to advance a focused, results-oriented, pan-Canadian approach to clinical practice guidelines and scopes of practice.

CNA is the national professional voice of registered nurses in Canada. A federation of 11 provincial and territorial nursing associations and colleges representing 146,788 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.

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For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:

Kate Headley, External Communications Coordinator
Canadian Nurses Association
Telephone: 613-237-2159, ext. 561
Cell: 613-697-7507
E-mail: kheadley@cna-aiic.ca