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Canada’s Unionized Nurses Agree Budget Does Not Go Far Enough

Ottawa, Ontario – March 23, 2011 – The Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions was looking for substance and leadership on health care from this year’s federal budget. Canadians have told pollsters they want health care to be a priority in this budget. What the budget delivered was some welcome gestures, but not the measures Canadians require.

“We cannot delay needed improvements to our health care system and we cannot continue with misplaced priorities that leave health care lower than tax cuts, prisons and military spending.” said Linda Silas, president of the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions (CFNU). “It is time to make the strategic health care investments Canadians expect and deserve.”The budget should have contained:

• Federal leadership on health human resources with comprehensive steps to meet the demand for nurses and other health professionals

• A national strategy on poverty reduction and primary care: the government needs to come to grips with the connection between the social determinants of health and the costs of delivering health care

• Key investments in long-term care and home care to meet the needs of an aging population: Canada has been falling increasingly behind other countries in this regard

• A national drug plan to control the rising costs of pharmaceuticals, ensure affordable access to all Canadians, and provide better value for our health care spending

The need to support nurses and doctors choosing to locate in rural communities is substantial. However, the CFNU has been calling for provisions to relieve student debt for all health professionals with additional incentives to encourage more to locate in rural and remote communities. The shortage of health professionals exists all over the country, and will only get worse if action is not taken now.

Nurses are pleased the government heard those calling for assistance for family care givers, but a credit that amounts to $300 a year is not going to close the gaps in the continuum of care, the inhumane waiting lists and the patchwork of home care and long-term care as identified in the CFNU’s recent publication Long-Term Care in Canada: Status Quo No Option.

Seniors need to be lifted out of poverty, but the budget’s increase to the GIS amounts to more of a thread than a lifeline, at about $50 a month.

There was nothing to address the need for accessible childcare, nothing to reduce child poverty when one in five Canadian children lives poor, nothing to address the need for affordable housing, and nothing to bring hope to Aboriginal communities which once again seem to be forgotten in conditions most of us associate with the developing world.

The Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions was looking for a holistic approach to public health and health care. This budget provides some tasty crumbs, but just crumbs nonetheless.

The Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions which will be celebrating 30 years this year represents 176,000 nurses across Canada.

For more information, please contact

Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions