Nurses in Ontario have passed their breaking point, burned out and left believing there is no hope for change – a message from a group of health care unions working to solve staff shortages in the province. calls for “immediate steps”.
“Immediate steps, like yesterday,” said Katherine Hoy, president of the Ontario Nurses Association.
Hoy said those moves begin with the immediate repeal of Wage Restraint Act Bill 124 and reinstatement of collective bargaining.
“Many Canadian nurses, believe it or not, made their wills before going to work as the pandemic began,” she said.
“They did it because they feared they would die but they went in anyway.”
The association was one of three health care associations – ONA, CUPE and the Service Employees International Union, which together represent about 120,000 health care workers across the province – sounding the alarm over staff shortages in Ontario’s hospitals. His call comes as health care workers are said to be walking off the field, leaving some hospitals unable to properly run their emergency departments.
Bill 124 ‘negotiate for another day’: Minister
According to the Ontario Nurses Association, about 25 hospitals in Ontario were forced to downsize their facilities over the long weekend due to staff shortages.
As concerns grew, Ontario’s health minister said this week that the province is looking at how to get internationally trained nurses to work here as soon as possible.
As for Bill 124, Sylvia Jones told The Canadian Press: “That’s a conversation for another day.”
Michael Hurley, president of CUPE’s Ontario Council of Hospital Unions, told reporters Friday that Ontario has the fewest hospital workers of any province in Canada. Hurley said successive Ontario governments have closed hospitals and 25,000 acute care beds over the past 30 years.
Based on the most recent provincial budget, Hurley said the Financial Accountability Office’s Project Ford government “will cost our hospitals for the next five years substantially less than their actual cost.”
He says this means that as the workload increases and the pressure increases, the staff shortage will increase.
The unions say they have made several attempts to be heard by the provincial government, but their concerns have so far not been addressed.
Unions release 5-point recipe for change
As a result, he issued a five-point plan, which he says should be implemented immediately to address health care pressures. they include:
1. Support for the existing workforce through on-site support such as mental health support, investments to make hospital workplaces safer, full-time employment, and child care.
2. Raise wages to attract and retain employees by repealing Bill 124.
3. Financial incentives to discourage retirement and promote hiring and retention.
4. Provide incentives for recruiting nurses, paramedics and other licensed but not working hospitals.
5. Expand post-secondary spaces for health subjects, including waiving tuition and creating financial incentives to study and practice in Ontario.
Jones has said that over the past few weeks her role has been to meet with organizations and individuals who have solutions, and to hear their feedback.
The health care minister has said the work includes what the government has been doing for the past four years, including increasing the number of workers in the system – he has added more than 10,000 since the start of the pandemic.
In a statement Friday to CBC News, a spokesman for the health minister said provinces across the country are facing similar pressures, and that Ontario has provided a $5,000 retention bonus for nurses.
Spokesperson Stephen Warner said in a statement that Ontario has financially supported 14,000 individual support worker students to complete their training. It also says it has invested $12.4 million in access to mental health and addiction support.
“We are aware that more work needs to be done and continue to work with all partners,” the statement said, citing 140 public hospital corporations, regulatory colleges and unions.
“To that end, the minister has directed the College of Nurses and the College of Physicians and Surgeons to report back in two weeks on plans to rapidly register new internationally educated health care workers.”
Shortage may peak before more challenges in fall: Executive
Meanwhile, an executive at the provincial agency that oversees Ontario’s hospitals says the situation could improve in the coming weeks while the system is experiencing staff stress at “unprecedented” levels.
Dr. Chris Simpson, Executive Vice President of Ontario Health, says staff shortages are affecting hospitals of all sizes across the province with unprecedented vigor and severity. Ontario Health says 10 hospitals have had to temporarily close emergency departments since June because of a lack of nursing services.
He says staff shortages may peak in the coming weeks as the current wave of COVID-19 is receding, but the decline could pose future challenges, and solutions are being discussed to bring in more workers quickly. has been
For their part, the unions say they are ready to meet with the province at any time, as early as today, if it so desires.
“It was actually a year ago when we should have had this conversation. We could see it coming and, unfortunately, we didn’t have time with Premiere,” said Sherlyn Stewart, president of SEIU Healthcare. “He didn’t move.”