As a nurse, your clinical expertise and knowledge of the social determinants of the health affords you valuable perspective that policy-makers need to be made aware of. Our toolkit is designed to help nurses have their voices heard.
After you’ve found the candidates for your riding, we suggest you engage them by sending a letter, requesting a meeting, and staying connected.
Tips on engaging with a political candidate
Remember: political candidates want to hear from you because you’re the expert on health care.
Your elected federal officials are in office to represent you. You’re entitled to reach out and talk to them about the issues you care about, whether they pertain to your riding or the nation as a whole.
The issues discussed with candidates are usually around national policies such as federal funding for health care, but you should always aim to make it relevant by providing examples from your riding. Increasing federal health transfers to enhance virtual care or long-term care delivery in your community is something the federal government and your future-elected member of Parliament can help with.
Here are some more tips to help you get the most out of your interactions with political candidates:
- Know your stuff: During a campaign, you never know when you’ll run into a candidate – at a neighbourhood event, grocery store or on your very own doorstep. Take some time to prepare two or three priority issues you can speak about with candidates. Or, if you’re short on time, download CNA’s election platform, titled Charting a Course for a Healthier Nation [PDF, 1.3 MB], so you can inform candidates of our identified priority issues.
- Stay connected: Follow your local candidates on social media to know more about them and what they are saying during the election. You can also follow CNA and the media to stay up to date on the latest federal election developments and access summaries and resources of major election issues as well as parties' stances.
- Be concise and direct: Candidates are always crunched on time. If you are meeting them at your doorstep, at an event, or asking a question during a webinar, be ready to get your ideas across in just a few minutes or even a few seconds. You will also have a bigger impact if you can generate a discussion, which you can do by asking open-ended questions that encourage the candidate to tell you more. If you ask whether your candidates support more funding for long-term care, that will usually only get you nothing more than a resounding “yes.” Instead, ask them open-ended questions like how they and their party will take action to fix the problems with Canada’s long-term care sector.
- Get face time: Contact your local campaign offices for a virtual or in-person (if possible) appointment with the candidate or their staff. Be persistent and follow-up if you don’t get a response. Arm yourself with our election platform to help communicate the issues and evidence clearly. Your local candidate’s information will be available on Elections Canada’s website.
- Work the scene: Check with your local campaign offices and candidates’ social media channels to find events, town halls, webinars and debates near you or virtually. Be aware of and follow any local public health measures. You can focus on attending virtual events only. Events are great opportunities to meet your candidates and ask questions and find out how they will act on your priorities. However, these spaces do not usually allow time for a genuine conversation. Do not forget to tweet with our #CNA2021 while you are engaging in this year’s federal election!
Finally, follow your area’s COVID-19 public health guidelines. If public health measures permit, you can attend meetings where candidates will be present. These events can include rallies, community events, debates, and local town halls. You may even run into a candidate at your grocery store. There will also likely be many virtual engagement opportunities, such as webinars and town halls, which you can attend to engage with candidates.
Send a letter
We’ve made letter-writing easy for you! Here are some options:
- Use this tool to easily send a letter to all your local candidates.
- If you prefer, write your own letter from scratch. You can use the tips below and use this letter template.
- Keep a copy of your letter so you can compare it to the response you receive. This will help you evaluate how thoroughly the party or candidate considered and responded to your concerns.
- Send copies of your letter to any other individuals or organizations you think may be interested in your cause/concern. This helps to create a domino effect of action and advocacy.
- Send a short note to thank a party or candidate if they respond. This demonstrates that you are respectful and are willing to keep the dialogue going. A follow-up letter is an opportunity to express your ongoing observance of the issue and to remind the party of your request(s) and/or the commitment(s) they have made.
- Be aware of the language you use. Letters that are seen as rude or inflammatory are less likely to motivate a thoughtful response from a political party and may, in fact, lead to a more perfunctory or dismissive response.
Request a meeting
How to send a meeting request
- Send your request to the candidate via email at first.
- Make sure your email includes your full name and your postal code.
- Make sure your request for a meeting is very clear. Your intent should be clearly written at the beginning of your email.
- If you are planning to send a letter to your candidate, you can also include the meeting request in your letter.
- Once sent, it may take some time to receive a response, but feel free to follow up either by phone or email after at least a week has passed.
Before a meeting
- You have managed to secure a meeting, congrats! Do not forget to do research to be prepared.
- Look at the candidate’s bio and any other information online.
- What is their background? What is their party? Are they familiar with health/nursing? Do they have a connection in any way to nursing/health?
- Prepare a meeting script with talking points that can guide you through the meeting.
- Take note of how long the meeting will be and adjust accordingly (meetings can be as short as only 15 minutes).
- A day before, confirm the meeting with the candidate.
- Read CNA’s election platform and key messages for each recommendation and issue.
During a meeting
- First, do not forget to thank the candidate for taking time from their busy agendas to meet with you.
- Always adopt a respectful and constructive attitude towards candidates in order to get the most out of meetings. Never be confrontational and avoid partisan discussions.
- Use real stories and local examples from your own experience to support the key messages you want to get across.
- Be mindful of the time that has been allotted for your meeting.
- The meeting should follow the below general flow:
- Introduction: Introduce yourself, your background, where you work, and any community involvement.
- The issues: Choose no more than three issues to discuss and highlight the major problems and proposed solutions.
- Questions and discussion: Be prepared to answer and discuss any questions that the candidate may have. This is also the time where you can ask two or three questions yourself. It is OK if you do not have all the answers to their questions, nor it is expected of you. If you do not have an answer, you can simply say that you commit to getting back to the candidate’s office and provide a written response.
- Conclusion: Thank the candidate again for their time and briefly summarize the main points discussed or any action items.
After a meeting
- After the meeting, you can send a quick thank-you note to the candidate.
- If you took any photos of your meeting, post them on social media and tag the local candidate’s account to thank them for the meeting. Be sure to use the hashtag #CNA2021. You can also send your photo along with your twitter handle and the candidate’s twitter handle to CNA at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will also share it on our social media.
- If you promised any additional information to the candidate and need help, you can contact CNA at email@example.com for support.
If you have any questions, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Join the conversation
Go public on Facebook and Twitter and see what others are saying. Don’t forget to use #CNA2021
Authorized by the Canadian Nurses Association, www.cna-aiic.ca, 1-800-361-8404