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Prominent Canadians Champion the Nursing Profession

OTTAWA, Sept. 21 – A group of accomplished Canadians will champion nurses and the nursing profession during the Canadian Nurses Association (CNA) centennial in 2008. “The individuals – experts in the fields of health policy, the environment, public affairs, leadership, business, media and entertainment – will volunteer their skills and knowledge to advance the important role of nursing in improving the health system and quality of life for the benefit of all Canadians,” said Dr. Marlene Smadu, president of CNA. As members of the CNA Centennial Leadership Cabinet, they will also help celebrate the contributions of Canada’s 250,000 registered nurses at events throughout CNA’s 100th anniversary year. The Leadership Cabinet members are:

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Many of the cabinet members have had recent personal experience with the health system. “Nurses played a pivotal role in my rehabilitation and recovery after the near-fatal fall I suffered,” said Mr. Harcourt. The former B.C. premier sustained life-threatening injuries and partial paralysis when he fell from a cliff six metres high in 2002.

“Whether in the Canadian Forces’ uniform or in civilian garb, our nurses have cared for, comforted and helped heal our nation’s heroes – they are often quiet heroes themselves,” said Gen. Hillier, noting that “nurses have served in every major conflict Canada has been involved in from the World Wars through to current operations in Afghanistan.”

“In First Nations and Inuit communities, nurses are the main health providers. Their expertise and commitment assures access to health-care services,” stated Ms. Aglukark. “In many of our communities, nurses support individuals and their families through trauma and life-threatening illnesses. Nurses save lives day after day.”

CNA will use its centennial year to address the concerns of Canadians about access to health services through initiatives aimed at increasing public awareness about the scope of practice for nurses, improving morale among nurses, attracting new people to the profession and increasing funding for nursing education, research and practice.

“Increasingly, rural communities are coming to rely on nurse practitioners to help meet their primary health care needs, such as annual check-ups, the ordering of diagnostic tests and referrals to specialists,” said Mr. Epp, who represented the riding of Provencher, Manitoba, as a member of Parliament. From his perspective as a business leader, Mr. Epp said, “Nurses make important contributions to a healthy workforce and the economic prosperity of our society as a whole.”

“Investing in nursing education is an investment in the future of Canada’s health system,” said Dr. Genest, president of the Council of Ontario Universities. “Our aging population is putting new pressures on health-care delivery. Schools of nursing are committed to expanding to address the current and future nursing shortage. But they are struggling with insufficient operating funding and a lack of quality clinical placements. I am excited about this opportunity to work with CNA to increase awareness of the critical role of nursing and to explore effective ways of expanding enrolment levels to meet the rising demand for nursing care.”

CNA is the national voice for registered nurses, advancing the profession and shaping health policy through innovation and research. “Representing the largest group of health professionals in Canada, CNA has a critical role to play in developing strategies to reduce wait times for health services. I share the view of CNA that innovation is also key to effectively responding to the health needs of our aging Canadian population,” said Ms. McLellan. “It is truly an honour to support this work and our nurses.”

“As a Leadership Cabinet member for the 100th birthday of the CNA, I look forward to promoting the nurses and the difference they make to communities across the country,” said Mr. Smith.

“Having worked in my first career as a nurse, I know how demanding the job is and the positive difference nurses make in the lives of their patients and their families,” said Mr. Brandt. “From life’s start, to life’s end, there is always a nurse.”

Dr. Lemire Rodger said, “CNA’s centennial has the potential to be an important year in increasing public understanding of the vital role nurses play in the health system. Not many people realize that nurses take many decisions that have life-and-death consequences in very specialized areas in hospitals each day. Through skilled monitoring of patient conditions, timely clinical interventions, patient education and ground-breaking research, nurses play a critical role in positive patient outcomes.”

Programming for CNA’s centennial will focus on three themes: celebrating a century of leadership, investing in the future and advocating for a healthier environment. As a member of the Leadership Cabinet, Dr. Slater will assist CNA in increasing public policy attention on the effects of environmental issues like climate change on the health of Canadians.

The role of Canadian nurses has expanded over the last 100 years. Nurses have specialized knowledge that enables them to provide advice and treatment for people across the spectrum of care, including cardiac and cancer care, maternal and child care, intensive care and home care. Nurses also coordinate research, administer hospital and health clinics, and lead public health initiatives. Nurses can be found working in schools, war zones, remote rural areas, prisons and homeless shelters, as well as in hospitals, long-term care facilities and doctors’ offices. “In lending their support, the Leadership Cabinet is promoting the evolving and integral role nurses play in charting the course for a stronger and more vibrant health system for Canadians,” said Dr. Smadu.

For further information: Tina Grznar, communications specialist, Canadian Nurses Association, (613) 237-2159 ext. 283, cell: (613) 240-7830, [email protected]