NPAO calls on the government to improve access to NP services through addressing compensation inequities and removing regulatory barriers that undermine patient care.Private Members' Bill Introduced to Proclaim Nurse Practitioner Week TORONTO, Nov. 15, 2016 /CNW/ - France Gélinas, MPP for Nickel Belt and the NDP Health Critic, announced today that she will be introducing a Private Members' Bill to proclaim the second full week in November each year as Nurse Practitioner Week. Representatives of the Nurse Practitioners' Association of Ontario (NPAO) joined her in the Queen's Park media studio for the announcement. " Ontario's 2,933 nurse practitioners (NPs) deliver a range of high quality health care services to people across Ontario every day," noted Gélinas. "It's important to recognize the valuable contributions made by these professionals and remind the Liberal government that NPs could do even more, if barriers to their practice were finally removed," she said. In November of 2009, the Legislature passed Bill 179, which gave new responsibilities to NPs to more effectively respond to the health care needs of their patients. But to date, important sections of that bill have not been proclaimed by the Liberal government, creating delays in access to care, which negatively impact NPs and patients alike. "Our members would be delighted to have their expertise and skills formally acknowledged through a proclamation of Nurse Practitioners Week," noted Donna Kearney, President of NPAO. "They will be even more delighted when the Liberal government finally removes the other barriers to practice included in Bill 179 so their role can be optimized within our health care system," she added. "Nurse Practitioners should be able to order CT scans, perform defibrillation, and perform 'point of care' laboratory tests, in order to provide more effective and efficient care to their patients," said Theresa Agnew, CEO of NPAO. "These were the responsibilities given to NPs in 2009 when the legislation was passed - it's long past time to bring them into full effect," Agnew noted. "As a nurse practitioner, I appreciate that my work as a health care professional will be formally recognized during Nurse Practitioners Week," said Jennifer Clement, NP Lead of SDNPLC. "That work will have even more value once the Liberal government lets me use all of my skills and expertise to deliver health care services to Ontarians," she concluded. In addition, there continues to be an uneven playing field when it comes to recruiting and retaining Nurse Practitioners across the health care system. For the past four years NPAO, AFHTO and AOHC have worked diligently on behalf of inter-professional Primary Care teams (CHCs, FHTs, NPLCs, and AHACs) to advocate for fair and equitable compensation. In March 2016, the Government of Ontario committed to investing an additional 85 Million over three years to assist primary care organizations to recruit and retain skilled non-physician staff. "Compensation for Nurse Practitioners and all team members (other than physicians) has been frozen in Ontario for the last eight years. The Minister states that the Primary Care sector is the foundation of the health care system. But that foundation is crumbling. The government has made an initial down payment but much more work needs to be done. The government needs to invest in the future of primary care so that all Ontarians can access a primary care provider," states Theresa Agnew, CEO NPAO. Currently more than 4 million Ontarians receive care from a Nurse Practitioner but many more could benefit from the expertise and care of a Nurse Practitioner. Studies show that Nurse Practitioner Led Clinics (NPLC) now provide efficacious, cost-effective care to more than 60,000 Ontarians but more communities have come forward needing an NPLC. Nurse Practitioners will continue to put their patients first!