Fall 2017 government relations roundup

January / February 2018   Comments
Teckles Photography Inc.Quebec board representative Sylvain Brousseau and Barb Shellian welcome federal Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor to begin the Facebook Live Q&A at CNA House in November.

CNA staff had an active fall season in government relations work, including briefs submitted to federal House and Senate committees that influenced important new health legislation and Facebook Live town hall events featuring Canada’s new health minister and federal NDP leadership candidates.

Improving health-related federal legislation

  • In its appearance before the House of Commons standing committee on finance, Nov. 7, CNA gave its full support to Bill C-63, the second 2017 Budget Implementation Act. The act updated clauses in the original March 22 budget legislation to remove barriers to NP practice. In the new bill, NPs are given the ability to provide care for patients to the full extent of their qualifications, which includes completing documentation about their patients’ medical conditions. Specifically, they will be identified in the Income Tax Act and its regulations as eligible to sign the certifications or reports needed for a range of federal benefits, wherever these have been provided by physicians.
  • CNA then endorsed Bill C-63 before the Senate standing committee on national finance, Dec. 7. Together with the Nurse Practitioner Association of Canada, CNA agreed with the amendments that grant NPs the authority to certify eligibility for the medical expense tax credit, the child care expense deduction, the student disability tax credit, the disability savings plan, and spousal survivor pension and Canada Pension Plan benefits, and to sign medical certificates for all three Employment Insurance programs. The following week, the bill received royal assent.
  • On Oct. 19, CNA went before the Senate standing committee on social affairs, science and technology to suggest revisions on Bill C-277, the Framework on Palliative Care in Canada Act, a private member’s bill sponsored by Conservative MP Marilyn Gladu. CNA’s brief included key recommendations from the Canadian Indigenous Nurses Association (CINA) on delivering equitable health services to Canada’s Indigenous populations. The committee’s final report on Oct. 31, which included a recommendation that CNA proposed, urged the federal government to provide additional funding for in-home palliative care services in rural, remote and Indigenous communities.
  • CNA then issued a joint statement with the Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Nurses Group welcoming the Senate’s Dec. 8 adoption of Bill C-277 (the bill received royal assent four days later). In the statement, CNA president Barb Shellian emphasized the fundamental role of RNs and NPs in palliative care and the importance of improving access in settings that best suit each individual’s needs. “The passage by the Senate is welcome news for patients and their caregivers,” she said, “as access to palliative care improves their quality of life while reducing unnecessary hospitalizations and health-care services.”
  • On Sept. 14, CNA, with support from cannabis researcher and RN Lynda Balneaves, made recommendations to the House of Commons standing committee on health related to Bill C-45, the Cannabis Act. To improve the proposed legislation to legalize non-medical cannabis, one of CNA’s key recommendations is for the federal government to invest $25 million annually over five years on public education, with ongoing funding of $2 million annually for a cannabis awareness campaign, targeting youth and adults, that is based on harm reduction.
  • On Oct. 20, CNA provided recommendations on advancing inclusion and quality of life for Canadian seniors to the House of Commons standing committee on human resources, skills and social development and the status of persons with disabilities. Included was a proposal that endorsed the continuation of rent support tied to income for low-income households in non-profit housing co-ops. On Nov. 22, the government unveiled its National Housing Strategy, which maintains those protections and supports the expansion of new affordable housing for people in need.

Speaking out on health policies with Canada’s health ministers

  • After attending the October federal, provincial and territorial health ministers’ conference in Edmonton, Shellian applauded the fact that a meeting with national Indigenous organizations was a key part of the agenda. CNA works in partnership with CINA as a vocal advocate for Indigenous nursing and health. CNA’s call to address significant and long-standing gaps in Indigenous health outcomes, as in its 2018 pre-budget submission to the House of Commons standing committee on finance, is aligned with CINA’s position. Shellian also welcomed the advancements in the ministers’ discussions on other issues CNA has been focusing on, such as antimicrobial resistance, the Cannabis Act and improving home care across Canada.
  • While at the meeting, CNA also participated in a joint press conference with Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights to discuss equitable access to health care and support for NPs prescribing Mifegymiso, the abortion pill. CNA was represented by Eric Lavoie, president of the Nurse Practitioner Association of Alberta. In the media statement that followed, he urged governments to help give women access to Mifegymiso by allowing NPs to practise to their full scope and noted how critical it was “to remove all the barriers — which include private insurers recognizing [the] NP as a qualified prescriber — to allow them to provide comprehensive care to their patients across Canada.”
  • On Sept. 6, Shellian moderated a Facebook Live town hall with federal NDP leadership candidates Charlie Angus, Niki Ashton, Guy Caron and Jagmeet Singh. Following opening statements, the candidates responded to questions on key health-care issues, including home care, mental health and Indigenous communities, non-medical cannabis, opioids and palliative care. This event received more than 11,000 views.

Hill Day 2017

CNA kicked off its annual Hill Day on Nov. 21 with a Facebook Live Q&A featuring federal Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor. During the event, moderated by the CNA president and Quebec board member Sylvain Brousseau, the minister answered questions on healthy eating, seniors and home care, the opioid crisis, pharmacare and the proposed Cannabis Act. By year end, the video recording of the event on CNA’s Facebook page had had more than 40,000 views.

Later that day, CNA board members, staff and jurisdictional observers attended a parliamentary reception hosted by Shellian, NDP MP Carol Hughes, assistant deputy Speaker; Liberal MP Kamal Khera, parliamentary secretary to the minister of national revenue; and Conservative MP Marilyn Gladu, official Opposition shadow minister for health. Nearly 60 MPs and senators, political staffers and special guests, including Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, heard Shellian’s keynote address on how to reduce the harms of non-medical cannabis.

Stay up to date on CNA’s government relations work by visiting cna-aiic.ca/onthehill.

David Granovsky, MA

David Granovsky, MA, is CNA’s lead for government relations.

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