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Canadian Nurses Association applauds measures in Budget 2018 to strengthen public health and access to care

Ottawa, February 27, 2018 — Barb Shellian, president of the Canadian Nurses Association (CNA), applauded the finance minister for measures in Budget 2018 that launch an advisory council to look at options for creating a national pharmacare program, provide investments for cannabis public education, the opioid crisis and dementia, and include measures for pay equity legislation.

“CNA welcomes the creation of an advisory council (chaired by Dr. Eric Hoskins, Ontario’s former minister of Health and Long-Term Care) in today’s budget,” said Shellian. “We urge the government to follow through and act on that commitment to create a comprehensive pharmacare program in Canada, in collaboration with provincial and territorial governments. We are also looking forward to the final report of the House of Commons standing committee on health and hope it will adopt our key recommendations to create a pan-Canadian pharmaceutical strategy to improve the accessibility, equity, efficiency, security and quality of prescription drug use in our health-care system.”

“While Budget 2018 does not provide the $125 million over five years for public education for cannabis recommended in CNA’s pre-budget submission, CNA is pleased to see that it does provide an increased investment of $83 million over five years for public education initiatives (building on the $46 million that was already earmarked over the same time-period). CNA hopes that some of these new funds can be provided to Canada’s nurses. A Nanos poll [PDF, 1.1 MB] indicated that 9 in 10 Canadians support a greater role for nurses in educating the public, but a national survey of nurses found that half of the respondents did not have the adequate level of knowledge needed to educate their patients on the harms of non-medical cannabis,” said Shellian.

“CNA was also pleased to see that Budget 2018 proposes new funding over five years to fight the opioid crisis, which features funding for Indigenous communities, as well as a public education campaign to address the stigma that creates barriers for those seeking treatment,” said Shellian.

“We also welcome new funding for the Public Health Agency of Canada to tackle the challenges experienced by persons living with dementia by supporting community-based projects. CNA has called on the government to provide solutions to address issues affecting patients, families, caregivers, and the broader health-care community, including nurses. Further, CNA is looking forward to the upcoming conference on dementia in May 2018 in Ottawa and expects to provide more solutions to the health minister to help address this disease.

“Budget 2018 proposes to provide substantial funding over five years to improve the health of our Indigenous communities by providing measures such as sustaining access to critical medical care services, which includes 24/7 nursing services in 79 remote and isolated First Nations communities,” said Canadian Indigenous Nurses Association (CINA) executive director Marilee A. Nowgesic. “While this funding is welcome, CINA believes that organizations will benefit from a meaningful collaborative partnership approach to ensure that the expertise of our Indigenous nurses is implemented — and where necessary is monitored. As many of us are aware, Indigenous nurses are the primary point of contact for all levels of health care in the community and nurses are most often consulted by community members, Indigenous leadership and mainstream professional entities. To that end, we are currently engaging with multiple stakeholders to design, develop and implement an Indigenous nursing knowledge framework that will provide much needed data and research opportunities,” said Nowgesic.

“Finally, we were pleased to see attention being paid to important elements of basic social justice important to CNA”, said Shellian. “The government will propose legislative amendments to the Canada Health Act to eliminate extra billing and user fees in our publicly funded health-care system.  And CNA is also looking forward to reviewing the new pay equity legislation that will be introduced in budget implementation legislation, which should boost the participation of women in the workforce. This should help to narrow the wage gap for women in federally regulated workplaces.”

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The Canadian Nurses Association is the national and global professional voice of Canadian nursing, representing over 139,000 registered nurses and nurse practitioners in Canada. CNA advances the practice and profession of nursing to improve health outcomes and strengthen Canada’s publicly funded, not-for-profit health system.

For more information, please contact:

Kevin Ménard
Lead, Communications
Canadian Nurses Association
Cell: 613-266-8230
E-mail: kmenard@cna-aiic.ca