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Federal Budget 2011: Canadians Left Waiting for Vision on Health Care – News Release

For immediate release

Ottawa, March 22, 2011 – The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) and the Canadian Nurses Association (CNA) reacted today to the federal budget with a renewed sense of urgency for the federal government to develop an overall health-care vision for Canada.

The budget contained some health-related announcements that represent steps in the right direction: for example, the Family Caregiver Tax Credit, initiatives to support palliative care, and the plan to relieve student debt for new nurses and physicians who locate in rural and remote settings. However, more action is needed to address challenges in these and other areas of health care.

“The initiative to address the shortage of primary care physicians recognizes the particular challenges of providing health care in rural and remote areas of the country,” said the CMA president, Dr. Jeff Turnbull. “However, there is also an important shortage of primary health care providers in Canada’s cities that must be addressed. This is why Canadians are calling for their federal government to take a more strategic and integrated approach to improving the health care system.”

In a public opinion poll last week commissioned by the CMA and CNA, 45 per cent of Canadians considered health care their priority for the federal budget compared to 35 per cent who chose the economy and 15 per cent who ranked the environment first. The poll also found that a strong majority of Canadians supported the introduction of a wide range of budget measures to improve the health-care system including enhanced programs to support disease prevention, healthy living, and environmental issues such as safe water. The budget offers little in the way of these measures or a strategic vision for the future of health care.

“Canada’s nurses are pleased to see nursing and medical student debt relief as well as tax relief for Canadians providing care for family members,” said Judith Shamian, CNA president. “However, just last week Canadians indicated clearly that health care was their number one priority and initiatives such as access to prescription drugs based on need and not on the ability to pay, went largely unaddressed in this budget.”

The CMA and CNA will continue to press forward with efforts to engage Canadians across the country in a dialogue on the future of the health-care system. Canadians have repeatedly indicated that a strong federal vision and strategic approach are critical to the future of Canada’s health-care system.

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 Canadian Medical Association (CMA) is the national voice of Canadian physicians. Founded in 1867, CMA’s mission is to serve and unite the physicians of Canada and be the national advocate, in partnership with the people of Canada, for the highest standards of health and health care. The CMA is a voluntary professional organization representing over 74,000 of Canada’s physicians and comprising 12 provincial and territorial medical associations and 51 national medical organizations.

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For more information:

External Communications Coordinator CNA Media Relations
Canadian Nurses Association
media@cna-aiic.ca
Tel: 800-361-8404 / 613-237-2133 ext. 553
Cell: 613-697-7507

Lucie Boileau
Manager, Media Relations
Canadian Medical Association
lucie.boileau@cma.ca
Tel: 800-663-7336 / 613-731-8610, ext. 1266
Cell: 613 447-0866