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Canadians say ‘Yes, please!’ to health in all policies

Ottawa, Tuesday, November 27, 2012 — According to a new national poll conducted for the Canadian Nurses Association (CNA), an overwhelming majority of Canadians say that any public policy should consider the positive and negative impacts on the health of Canadians. The poll’s findings reinforce recommendations made in a recent report from CNA’s independent National Expert Commission. The Commission spent a year discovering ways registered nurses, health organizations and providers, governments and Canadians can take action on transforming the health-care system to better meet the changing and pressing health needs of Canadians.

“To registered nurses, it’s not news that a person’s good health is heavily influenced by factors outside the health-care system, such as income or access to healthy food,” said CNA president Barb Mildon. “It’s time governments recognize the extent to which these other determinants of health affect Canadians. We expect our leaders to put health first and to assess the impact its policies will have both on our nation’s health and the health-care system.”

The poll, conducted just prior to today’s annual CNA Parliament Hill Day, found that Canadians appreciate the important role the determinants of health play in improving health. Nearly a third of respondents (29 per cent) said “improving conditions for the most vulnerable among us, such as the elderly, people with severe mental illness and those living in poverty” should be the federal government’s top priority, and “reducing poverty levels” is the most important area for improving the health of all Canadians. Nearly as many (25 per cent) said the federal government’s top priority should be “developing a long-term action plan to improve the performance of our health-care system.”

The poll results also echoed another significant element in the National Expert Commission’s report: the need for measuring health impacts and outcomes. More than three-quarters (86.3 per cent) of respondents think it’s important that the policy impacts on Canadians’ health be measured. CNA wants to turn these measures, as well as others, into major national health goals. The Commission’s very first recommendation is to have Canada rank in the top five nations for five key health outcomes by 2017.

“The top five in five isn’t just a rank race, it’s about value for money — ensuring that, as one of the top spenders in the world on health, we achieve top health outcomes,” said Mildon. “As the association representing the country’s largest group of health-care professionals, we will bring together health-care organizations, governments, employers and community associations to reach consensus and commitment on priority health goals. Everyone is accountable in working to achieve these goals. Everyone must play a role in supporting the healthiest Canada.”

During today’s CNA Parliament Hill Day event, more than 30 nurse leaders will meet with about 45 MPs and senators during a day of intensive meetings, capped off with an evening reception on the Hill.

The poll was conducted November 9-15, 2012, with Canadians age 18 and over from across the country. Results are accurate ± 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

Nanos Research poll result highlights:

  • 93% of respondents agree and somewhat agree (81.1% and 11.9%, respectively) that any public policy should consider the positive and negative impacts on the health of Canadians.
  • 75.3% of respondents think it’s important that these positive or negative impacts on Canadians’ health be measured, ranking it eight or higher on a scale of one to 10, where 10 is very important.
  • Nearly half of respondents (47.2%) support and 19.3% somewhat support more spending by the federal government through the Canada Social Transfer.
  • When asked what should be the federal government’s top priority for improving the health of Canadians, the top three responses were:
    • increasing access to health-care services (33.9%);
    • increasing investments in social programs and services (21%); and
    • better chronic disease prevention and management (22%).
  • When asked to rank the top priority for the federal government, 29.1% of respondents said “improving conditions for the most vulnerable among us, such as the elderly, people with severe mental illness and those living in poverty,” and 25% said “developing a long-term action plan to improve the performance of our health-care system.”
  • 29.2% of respondents selected “reducing poverty level” as the most important area for improving the health of all Canadians, and 21.6% selected “working toward environmental targets such as better air quality and access to clean drinking water.”
  • Nearly half (49.1%) of respondents think the federal government should have a greater role in helping to improve the living conditions of aboriginal people; 28.8% think it should have the same role.

The Canadian Nurses Association (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 interview requests, 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

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