How Health Care Decisions Get Made, The Policy Cycle and How Policies Get Made
What are some examples of the different types of policies that affect nursing in Canada? Would you consider yourself a “politically astute” nurse? What are some ways in which nurses can become active in policy as advocates?
Virtually every policy in Canadian government affects the nursing profession in Canada. In my experience policies on income, healthcare, and education have a major influence on the nursing profession.
I am trained as a nurse, but I have spent the last few years working in special education. I work in a more privileged school now, but prior to that I worked in inner city schools where the effect of a number of policies were very evident in the health and well being of the students I worked with, the parents and caregivers of these children, and the staff that I worked with.
The most profound effect of policy that I saw in education and continue to see today was the effects of policies put in place for the pandemic. Those of us who are more privileged were able to stay mostly safe and healthy, had access and choice of whether or not to get vaccinated, and were able to help our children keep up with school. Unfortunately this was not the case for many of the students I worked with. Many children missed out greatly on their education because of lockdowns. Many of our kids simply could not learn online because of physical or learning disabilities. Many families had no access to internet at home or through a local library as these were closed to the public. Those were just the problems for our kids whose families even had a home! Many of our immigrant and refugee families gave up as well because of the language barrier.
Lack of access to transportation and vaccines was another struggle as well. Many of our families had little or no access to or money for public transit. Kids and families had no access to testing or vaccines. Families begged to have mobile testing or vaccine clinics in neighborhoods or at our schools. We advocated for this as well, but local government kept these locations centralized and in “better” areas of the city which led to a lot of care injustice.
Post-pandemic many parents have had limited or no work with a reduction or outright loss of income as well. This prevents kids from having access to adequate shelter, healthy food, and care when needed for the best education outcome. Federal and provincial cuts post-pandemic have left us short-staffed because of a reduction in workers available to help and many people outright leaving the profession to advance their education and find higher paying jobs where people can work from home.
Everyday involves advocacy work especially for our special education students. I have spent the last year advocating for my student and their family. The student has ASD and needs a lot of help coming from a refugee situation. The family is looking for help at home and in daily life to adjust to being in a new country and culture and trying to understand what ASD is as they come from a country where ASD is not recognized.
All nurses, regardless of their role or the setting they work in should be politically astute and aware. Advocacy is tiring and time-consuming, but the outcome is beneficial for everyone involved and nurses should make it a priority in their daily practice.