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CNA on the Hill

CNA’s government relations program aims to influence federal health policy in the nation’s capital. Under the leadership of the director of policy, advocacy and strategy, the team works to advance CNA’s federal initiatives by building relationships and finding innovative ways to engage and influence parliamentarians and other decision-makers to help shape healthy public policy for Canadians.

To learn more, contact David Granovsky, CNA’s manager of government relations, at 613-237-2159 (toll-free at 1-800-361-8404), ext. 525, or dgranovsky@cna-aiic.ca.


House of Commons and Senate studies on Bill C-14, An Act to Amend the Criminal Code and to Make Related Amendments to Other Acts (Medical Assistance in Dying)

After the tabling of Bill C-14 on April 14, 2016, CNA was invited by two parliamentary committees to propose amendments to the legislation:

  • On May 4, CNA director of policy, advocacy and strategy Carolyn Pullen appeared in a session before the House of Commons standing committee on justice and human rights, which included the Canadian Association of Advanced Practice Nurses and the Canadian Nurses Protective Society. CNA specifically recommended simpler language on “grievous and irremediable” conditions, the basis of requests for medical assistance in dying, and also the importance of allowing a person to refuse treatments that he or she finds unacceptable.   
  • On May 5, Carolyn and CNA senior nurse advisor Josette Roussel appeared before the Senate standing committee on legal and constitutional affairs for its pre-study on Bill C-14. Among several items CNA addressed at the meeting were the importance of ensuring universal access to end-of-life care (that includes both palliative and assisted death), individual values, and Criminal Code protections for nurses and other health-care providers.

    Read our briefs

CNA also issued two statements on Bill C-14: on April 14, the day the bill was first read in the House, and on May 17.

Special joint committee on physician-assisted dying

On January 27, 2016, CEO Anne Sutherland Boal and senior nurse advisor Josette Roussel appeared before the special joint committee on physician-assisted dying (PDAM) — alongside other stakeholder groups, including CMA — to present CNA’s brief [PDF, 319.1 KB] on medical assistance in dying (MAID).

In seeking to help nurses deliver the best ethical and competent care to all patients, Sutherland Boal outlined six priority requirements:

  • Safeguards to support individual decision-making by patients
  • Equitable and timely access to information about end-of-life options, including palliative care and physician-assisted death
  • Support for patient choice through a person-centred approach
  • Quality and safety mechanisms
  • Equitable access to psychological support for health-care providers
  • Protection of nurses and other health-care providers under the Criminal Code

Before the presentation, Roussel gave an interview (begins at 24m, 33s) on the topic for Revue Politique, a Canadian Public Affairs Channel program.

The joint committee tabled its final report on February 25, 2016, and CNA welcomed it by issuing a statement. On February 16, 2016, Sutherland Boal also participated in a Hill Times panel discussion on the issue. Ally Foster’s article, Physician-Assisted Death Law Needs “Clear Definitions,” provides a good summary of the event, which was moderated by Catherine Clark.

On March 15, 2016, CNA met with the federal Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould, along with her parliamentary secretary Sean Casey and senior policy advisor Jessica Prince. The meeting provided CNA with an opportunity to share its views and recommendations on how the draft legislation on MAID can be crafted (must be passed by June 6, 2016).

House committee on health study on the development of a national pharmacare program

On May 16, 2016, CNA senior nurse advisor Lisa Ashley provided CNA’s recommendation to the standing committee on health for its study on the development of a national pharmacare program. One of CNA’s recommendations was for a comprehensive, universal, public, affordable medication coverage that ensures access based on need and not the ability to pay. Read our brief [PDF, 352 KB]

Liberal Party of Canada’s national seniors caucus

On May 9, 2016, CNA president Karima Velji and CNA public representative Carole Dilworth appeared before the Liberal’s national seniors caucus to provide the group (chaired by MP Deb Schulte) with our recommendations for the federal government:

  • Establish common standards across Canada for home health care
  • Increase support to Canadians who provide care for aging relatives
  • Improve community- and home-based health promotion

Statements from MPs in the House of Commons during National Nursing Week 2016 (#NNW2016)

CNA would like to thank Governor General David Johnston [PDF, 254.2 KB] and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau [PDF, 119.6 KB] for their #NNW2016 messages to the nurses of Canada. We would also like to thank the five federal MPs (two Liberals, two Conservatives and one NDP) for their statements in the House of Commons during National Nursing Week (May 9-15, 2016) to recognize nurses and the nursing profession:

Salma Zahid, Liberal MP
Mr. Speaker, during National Nursing Week, we honour the dedicated women and men who are there to care for us and our loved ones when we are most in need.

There are many dedicated nurses in my riding of Scarborough Centre, but I would like to pay tribute to one outstanding nurse who is making a difference at Scarborough Hospital’s mental health department, Kelly Brockington.

Kelly was recently honoured by Cancer Care Ontario and the Ontario Renal Network at the Human Touch Awards for going the extra mile to touch the lives of patients. Kelly is passionate about helping cancer patients, and has volunteered to lead a project that is making mindfulness and cognitive behavioural therapy part of the cancer care program. Kelly is one of the many nurses making a difference in the lives of patients every day.

During this National Nursing Week, I ask the House to join me in thanking her and all our outstanding Canadian nurses.

Carol Hughes, NDP MP
Mr. Speaker, Canadians are rightfully proud of our health care system which has become a defining feature of our country and our identity. Much of what we celebrate, in large part, nurses deliver. Nowhere is this more obvious than in the north where doctors are a scarce resource and communities lean on nurses and nurse practitioners to get so much of the job done.

As our population ages, the role nurses play will become more vital to our national well-being.

We can keep that in mind as we mark National Nursing Week, which includes International Nurses Day and commemorates Florence Nightingale’s birthday on May 12.

While many of our fantastic nurses are men, it is no secret that a great many more are women. It is these nurses who help us through some of our most difficult and vulnerable times, playing so many roles, from caregiver, to confidant, to counsellor.

The slogan for National Nursing Week is "Nurses: With you every step of the way". One only has to encounter our health system in a time of need to learn how true that is.

Kamal Khera, Liberal MP, parliamentary secretary to the minister of health
Mr. Speaker, as an oncology nurse, I am proud to commemorate National Nursing Week and International Nurses Day on May 12.

Upon reflection of my own personal experiences, I will share a poem I have written in recognition of all dedicated nurses:

We are there for you, on your darkest night.
To make sure your next has more light.
Four-Oh-Six thousand from coast-to-coast our numbers stand.
With pride, the care of Canadians lies in our hands.
Extended shifts, short on resources, we do not quiver.
Safe and effective care, we are honoured to deliver.
When you are ill, do not fright, we are here to stay.
And we will hold your hand, every step of the way.

Tom Kmiec, Conservative MP
Mr. Speaker, today I rise to recognize Dr. Kathryn J. Hannah of Calgary who will be invested tomorrow into the Order of Canada for her efforts to promote the use of information technology to enhance nursing care in Canada and abroad.

Dr. Hannah, a proud member of the nursing profession since 1965 and a pioneer in the field of nursing informatics in Canada, has published foundational works and created practical applications of information technology to improve the nursing practice and enhance health care.

She was instrumental in the development of data standards that track the care of patients, which have allowed doctors and nurses to measure patient outcomes and which have provided governments with data to influence health policy.

I was privileged to have hosted her, her family and her two granddaughters, Alexis and Kinsley, for a visit of our Parliament this morning.

On behalf of the residents of Calgary Shepard, I want to congratulate her on this outstanding personal achievement.

Colin Carrie, Conservative MP, official Opposition critic for health
Mr. Speaker, May 9 to May 15 is National Nursing Week, a week that encompasses International Nurses Day and Florence Nightingale's birthday, which is May 12.

The Canadian Nurses Association is the national professional voice for registered nurses. The theme this year for National Nursing Week is “Nurses: With you every step of the way”.

It is an honour for me to rise in the House today to recognize the vital contributions that nurses make in the health and well-being of all Canadians, both across Canada and in my hometown of Oshawa.

With more than 406,000 regulated nurses across Canada, they are by far the largest group of health care providers in our country. Our party supports nurses in their commitment to deliver safe, effective, and quality health care.

On behalf of all Canadians, I would like to thank Canada's nurses, nursing students, and our next generation of nurses for their leadership in delivering better health for our nation.

Senate committee on social affairs, science and technology dementia study

On March 24, 2016, CNA director of policy, advocacy and strategy Carolyn Pullen appeared before the Senate committee on social affairs, science and technology to offer our recommendations for its study on dementia. In the brief [PDF, 334.6 KB], we presented four key proposals:

  • Establish a national commission to better integrate health care for Canadians
  • Develop a national dementia strategy that promotes a shift to home- and community-based care
  • Scale up dementia-friendly care innovations
  • Increase support for caregivers

Standing committee on finance pre-budget consultations for 2016

On February 17, 2016, CEO Anne Sutherland Boal appeared before the standing committee on finance (FINA) to present innovative and cost-effective ways [PDF, 297.3 KB] for the 2016 federal budget to support better health, better care and better value for all Canadians, with a special focus on seniors and Indigenous people.

CNA made three recommendations:

  • Deliver top-up funding to each province and territory based on demographics and population health priorities
  • Improve access to home- and community-based care, while including telehealth, mental health and palliative care
  • Invest in education for Indigenous students and professional development for health-care providers now serving Canada’s rural and remote communities

FINA adopts CNA recommendations

A week prior to the unveiling of the budget, the House of Commons finance committee tabled its pre-budget report. Among the committee’s recommendations to the government, to “support economic growth, fiscal sustainability, the ‘wellness’ of Canadians and Canadian businesses” (p. 64), were two supported proposals CNA made to FINA during consultations in February:

FINA Recommendation 16

“The federal government, in negotiating a new health care accord, ensure that it honours the principles of the Canada Health Act, particularly regarding portability of coverage, ensures fair and equitable access to health care based on need rather than on ability to pay, and includes an accountability framework. As well, the government should pursue the feasibility of a universal, national prescription drug program and enhanced investments in home care” (p.66).

What CNA proposed [PDF, 297.3 KB]
“that federal-provincial-territorial bilateral agreements include a robust accountability framework to enable monitoring and reporting on the use of [Canada Health Transfer] dollars [that] would:

  • Show causal relationships between inputs, activities and population health outcomes
  • Include reporting on a comprehensive set of indicators and outcome measures derived from existing national data sources
  • Link with data on social outcomes” (p. 4)

FINA Recommendation 32

“The federal government improve the educational prospects of Indigenous children by investing in on-reserve schools. To achieve this goal, the government should focus on better learning environments, reforms to the current on-reserve education system, and greater financial support for cultural and language programs” (p. 69).

What CNA proposed [PDF, 297.3 KB]
“To improve access to high-quality education for [Indigenous] students, CNA, whose membership includes the Aboriginal Nurses Association of Canada (A.N.A.C.), recommends a four-year annual federal government commitment of $100 million [for] accessible, culturally safe, high-quality early childhood learning and development programs” (pp. 5-6).

2016 federal budget

On March 22, 2016, Finance Minister Bill Morneau delivered his maiden federal budget. CNA responded by issuing a media release that generally supported the investments the government plans to make.

In the release, CEO Anne Sutherland Boal also emphasized that CNA was looking forward to what lies ahead: “While [the] budget did not provide specifics about the federal government’s allocation of health dollars to the provinces and territories, CNA is hopeful that the discussions underway on the new health accord will seek a shift to patient-centred care in homes and communities and, among other things, improve access to home care and mental health services.”

Meeting with Canada’s new health minister

Left to right: CNA president Karima Velji; Minister Philpott; CNA director of public affairs and member engagement Marc Bourgeois; and CNA director of policy, advocacy and strategy, Carolyn Pullen.

On December 16, 2015, Health Minister Jane Philpott sat down with CNA representatives to listen to the nursing profession’s priorities for health care. During the meeting, we emphasized the importance of expanding primary health care, eliminating the health inequities facing Indigenous people and their communities, and ensuring effective care for refugees.

CNA also discussed what’s needed in a new federal-provincial-territorial health accord, including goals, targets and indicators for:

  • National, publicly funded home- and community-based care
  • Pharmacare
  • Mental health care
  • Health-care integration

The meeting also included:

  • Geneviève Hinse, the minister’s chief of staff
  • Abby Hoffman, the assistant deputy minister for the strategic policy branch at Health Canada
  • Caroline Pitfield, the director of policy at Health Canada

2015 Federal election

Read about CNA’s 2015 federal election strategy: our Health Is Where the Home Is campaign to help bring improvements to seniors care and healthy aging.

Health-care innovation report

In June 2014, Health Minister Rona Ambrose announced the creation of an advisory panel on health-care innovation. The panel’s mandate was twofold:
  • Determine five areas of innovation that could improve the quality and accessibility of care while reducing the growth in health spending.
  • Find five ways the federal government could support these areas of innovation.

On July 17, 2015, after “thousands of hours of engagement, consultation, research, and deliberation,” the panel delivered its final report: Unleashing Innovation: Excellent Healthcare for Canada. CNA encourages all levels of government, all parties and all health-care stakeholders to embrace the areas of innovation outlined in the report and to act on its recommendations.

In August, HealthCareCAN sat down with panel chair Dr. David Naylor to discuss the report’s recommendations and highlights. Watch HealthCareCAN’s videos of Dr. Naylor’s thought-provoking insights, then visit CNA’s Your Platform page and voice your opinion on health care in Canada.