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Canada's nurses praise Manitoba's passage of Jordan's Principle resolution

HALIFAX, Nova Scotia, June 5, 2015 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Passage by the Manitoba Legislature yesterday of a resolution promising no child will be left to languish in hospital during a jurisdictional dispute between provincial and federal governments is an important and sensible step forward, the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions says.

While the Legislature's resolution to uphold "Jordan's Principle" was a good first step, governments now need to give it meaning by putting in place clear mechanisms in co-operation with First Nations, the presidents of CFNU and the Manitoba Nurses Union agreed. This would ensure the health and well-being of children is put first in all circumstances.

"Considering the high rate of disability among First Nations youth, which is close to double, compared to other Canadian children, and the fact that many of these young people have more than one disability, both levels of government are bound to encounter jurisdictional disputes often," said MNU President Sandi Mowat. "We need crystal clear policies on how to deal with such situations as soon as they arise."

"It's important to see the voice of practicing frontline nurses influencing the development of health care policy, as happened in this case," said Linda Silas, president of the CFNU. "We always need to protect and care for our most vulnerable citizens. This is the first priority and our guiding principle."

"Jordan's Principle should now be acknowledged and accepted by all other Canadian provinces as well, as it was by the House of Commons in 2007," Silas said.

The Manitoba Legislature's motion called for the provincial government to formally support Jordan's Principle, while reaffirming the province's commitment to the United Nation's Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Jordan's Principle was established in response to the death of five-year-old Jordan River Anderson from Norway House Cree Nation in Manitoba, who was born with complex medical needs requiring around-the-clock care.

Jordan's family did not have access to the supports needed to care for him at their home on reserve, so they made the decision to place him in the care of child welfare shortly after birth. The child remained in Winnipeg hospital, 800 kilometres south of his family's home, for the first two years of his life.

As his medical condition stabilized, shortly after his second birthday, doctors said he could go home, but the dispute between the federal and provincial governments over who should pay for his home care left him stranded at the Winnipeg Children's Hospital for more than two years. He died in hospital in 2005 without ever seeing his home community and never having the chance to live in a family home.

Jordan's Principle calls on the government of first contact to pay for the services and seek reimbursement later so the child does not get caught in the middle of a bureaucratic dispute.

In one of its 94 recommendations released Tuesday, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission called on all governments in Canada to fully implement Jordan's Principle.

A private member's motion was passed unanimously in support of Jordan's Principle in the House of Commons in 2007.

Delegates to CFNU's 17th Biennial Convention, which was one of the largest gatherings of nurses in Canadian history, acknowledged the Manitoba vote this morning, day five of their convention. More than 1,000 nurses from across Canada were in Halifax to participate in the event, including more than 100 from Manitoba.

The Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions represents close to 200,000 nurses and student nurses. Our members work in hospitals, long-term care facilities, community health care and our homes.

For more information, contact Christie Blotnicky of Nova Scotia Nurses Union, 902-818-4453, or by email at christie.blotnicky@nsnu.ca

CONTACT: Christie Blotnicky, Nova Scotia Nurses Union, 902-818-4453, christie.blotnicky@nsnu.ca

Source:Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions