Canada’s nurses action change with a new blueprint for health-care transformation

CNA’s independent National Expert Commission presents final report during association’s annual meeting in Vancouver

Ottawa, Monday, June 18, 2012 — This morning the National Expert Commission presented A Nursing Call to Action, its final report to Canadians, the registered nurse (RN) community and leaders of the Canadian Nurses Association (CNA) for health-care system transformation in Canada. Aiming to achieve better health, better care and better value, the report sets out a number of recommendations to drive Canada through a fundamental shift in the way health and health care is funded, managed and delivered. Among those recommendations is a challenge to ensure Canada ranks in the top five nations in five key population health outcomes by 2017.“I think it’s clear to everyone these days that Canada’s health-care system is in dire need of change,” said CNA president Judith Shamian. “Together, we as a country must look beyond hospitals and emergency departments—beyond just fixing people when they’re sick— and take decisive actions to improve the efficiency of the existing system, to ensure value for the considerable dollars spent on health care and to guarantee that meaningful change will happen for the health of our nation today and in the future.”

“CNA and Canada’s RNs are solidly committed to transforming the system so that Canadians have the best care and the best health outcomes,” added CNA CEO Rachel Bard. “We are already part of this change both in our work with the provinces and territories through the Council of the Federation and in our collaborations with other health-care associations. But this report gives us a blueprint, solidly based in evidence and best practices, to help us target what health outcomes we need to work toward, and RNs can lead this move to a new and improved health system.”

In her 2010 inaugural speech as president of CNA, Shamian first spoke of a national commission as a way to engage Canadians in the examination of our country’s health-care system. Out of that idea came the National Expert Commission — the only one of its kind to be spearheaded by RNs, Canada’s largest group of health-care professionals, and wholly funded (by CNA) without third party or government contributions. The Commission consulted RNs and other health-care providers, educators, policy- and decision-makers, while spanning provinces and territories. Additionally, through a partnership with YMCA Canada, the Commission met in 19 cities with Canadians of every generation, learning their views on the most pressing health-care issues and discovering possible solutions.

“To affect real change, we have to examine both health and our system through a new lens — one with a much wider focus,” said Shamian. “We also have to look at the multitude of elements that affect a person’s health: income, adequate and safe housing, access to proper nutrition and clean drinking water, education and employment. All those elements must be taken into account when considering a person’s health, and we will ensure those respective sectors are involved in any plans to transform the health-care system. We will lead this change, doing whatever must be done to fight for the healthiest nation possible, because that’s our primary responsibility as health-care providers and RNs.”

Among the top priorities is identifying and building consensus around key health outcomes, such as ensuring that every Canadian belongs to a primary health-care team or has consistent and timely access to a primary care provider. In addition to these priorities, it is important that we find ways to help delay or prevent the onset of chronic diseases, such as reducing the Canadian population’s average weight to target diabetes and high blood pressure. Likewise, as our population ages, we must make sure seniors, especially the most vulnerable or marginalized, have access to home and community care services.

With the final recommendations now presented and with the challenge set to transform Canada into one of the five healthiest nations, CNA is proud and appreciative of the accomplishments of the National Expert Commission and its report. Especially encouraging is its manageable and practical list of recommendations, which can be implemented today to affect meaningful change for the health of our nation in the immediate and near future.

To read the recommendations and the full report online, visit:

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.


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: [email protected]


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