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November 1, 2016

Canada's Nurses Agree! Education is a right!


By Linda Silas

Many respected leaders have argued that, “Education [and health care] should be a right, not a privilege.”

This is a statement that I believe in whole-heartedly.

Over the next few days, as we anxiously await our neighbours to the south prepare for one of the most critical elections in history, and as we come together to organize for All Out November 2nd day of action on Parliament Hill – I can’t help but think about the implications of these words and how strongly I believe that if we can work together to make this a reality, it could change the lives of millions of people on both sides of our border.

My name is Linda Silas, and I am the president of the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions. I represent nearly 200,000 nurses and nursing students across Canada and I pledge to take action on November 2, 2016.

The Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) is calling for universal access to education, meaning that regardless of who you are, where you are born, your age or background – you should have the right to access higher education. The price tag attached to post-secondary education in this country is a barrier for far too many Canadians, and with the average education-related debt sitting at $28,000 incurred by others – this leads to a life of struggles, stress and sacrifice.

Like the CFS, Canada’s nurses are too calling on all levels of government to recognize that Canada is the only country with a universal public health care system that does not provide universal coverage of medicines, and currently one in ten Canadians cannot afford to fill their prescriptions.

We must stand together on these issues and recognize the socioeconomic and financial barriers that directly impact access to essential health services like pharmacare and education in this country, among other challenges.

We must work towards building a more inclusive, healthy, educated and empowered Canada.

Another issue that the CFNU’s national executive board has been tackling is with the Canadian nursing licensing exam change last year to the U.S.-import NCLEX-RN exam. This change in the nursing licensing process to the NCLEX has had many impacts on nursing students, resulting in higher failure rates, increased costs and undue stress for students.

We know that our Canadian nursing students are some of the most highly educated nurses in the world, yet due to issues with the exam students are spending thousands of dollars on top of already sky-high tuition fees to pay for additional prep courses and multiple re-writes.

We will continue to stand with our affiliates at the Canadian Nursing Students Association (CNSA) and nursing students across Canada on this issue.

I stand in solidarity with students across this country, who passionately believe that at the core of a just, equitable and fair society is a system of public post-secondary education that is accessible to everyone. A key part of this vision is for the Government of Canada to act on the internationally recognized right of all people to education.

On behalf of Canada’s nurses I am proudly supporting the National Day of Action. We echo the CFS’s call for free education, and we encourage all members to participate at events across the country.