Before and after the photo op

January / February 2017   Comments

Truth be told, I hate having my picture taken. As a child, I would run and hide if I saw a camera. Consequently, I am absent from some family photos! I have learned to be more comfortable with cameras as CNA’s president because those pictures chronicle more than that moment in time. The adage “a picture is worth a thousand words” became very real to me in November.

Teams of CNA board members, registered nurses, nursing students and staff took to Parliament Hill for Hill Day on Nov. 22. We talked with MPs and senators about home care, accountability for resource allocation, the health accord, harm reduction, support for caregivers and federal barriers to NP practice. I was in awe of my fellow board members, who championed the messages in a professional and passionate manner. Their success was due to the diligence and skills of CNA staff, who support the board and craft the messages in a way that grabs politicians’ attention.

Politicians wanted to talk with us because what we have been saying has meaning for Canadians and promotes sustainability of the health system. There is credibility in our messages. I know our recommendations are having an impact because they are being repeated in ministerial speeches and staffers’ briefing notes, as well as in Senate hearings.

The success of a Hill Day is the culmination of many months — and sometimes years — of work by past presidents, past boards and CNA staff. CNA’s success is due to its work being strategic and targeted, and its volunteers and staff being ready to take advantage of any open door for conversation.

On Nov. 23, I met the prime minister (yes, there are pictures). It cannot be overstated that the Prime Minister’s Office has a significant influence on advocacy work. The meeting was not just a photo op. Justin Trudeau and his staff expressed gratitude for CNA’s work on important health issues. He took the time to meet with us and had his senior staff engage with us in more in-depth conversations about the next steps.

So what happens after we have our pictures taken with the PM, other MPs and senators? The work continues. The followup is tireless. The advocacy for a stronger health system is relentless. It is not all about the photos. It is about the change that happens. CNA is working for you, the profession and Canadians.

Barb Shellian, RN, BN, MN

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