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Nurses' Association endorses new Liberal-NDP partnership

RNAO pleased to see health care improvements at the heart of the political agreement

Ontario's registered nurses have endorsed the partnership announced this week by the federal Liberal and New Democratic Parties.

The new deal to put aside partisan differences and a promise to work together for the benefit of Canadians is drawing praise from the Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario (RNAO).

RNAO said the agreement between Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and NDP leader Jagmeet Singh was historic and would see the NDP providing caucus support to the Liberals in exchange for several improvements on medical policy issues.

Dr. Doris Grinspun, the CEO of the nurse's association said the agreement represents a significant step forward at a time when politics had been so divisive in Canada.

"Canada is at an important crossroads in its history and this agreement represents a way forward to improve the health and wellbeing of Canadians. While there are many details still to be worked out, this is something that we should champion," Grinspun said.

She added that "people expect their elected representatives to collaborate and implement healthy public policies."

RNAO also said the three-year plan for dental care is a longstanding recommendation of the nurse's group and is especially welcome.

"Oral care is health care. Too many Canadians do not have access to dental coverage and this agreement paves the way to help millions of people who have been denied or do not have access to dental care, simply because they don't have the means to pay for it," Grinspun said.

She added that the association is just as pleased to see progress towards a national pharmacare program. Grinspun said Canada can be proud to have a national medicare system, but 30 per cent of Canada's total health expenditure — prescription drugs — still remains excluded from coverage.

Grinspun said Canadians should not have to make a choice between getting prescriptions filled and buying groceries or putting food on the table. 

"We urge both parties to ensure such a plan is fulsome so it meets the needs of Canadians who have to make choices they shouldn't have to make," she said. 

In addition to expanding Medicare, RNAO said it was pleased by the parties' commitment to table a Safe Long-Term Care Act and to work with the provinces and territories to deliver better health outcomes for Canadians. 

RNAO said although the agreement is short on specifics, the NDP and Liberals say this would include more primary care nurses and physicians, mental health support, and investments to support older Canadians who wish to remain in their homes longer.