TORONTO — This morning, Ontario Green Leader Mike Schreiner called on Doug Ford to take urgent motion to handle the nursing shortage crisis facing the province as Ontario battles the fourth wave.
“We cannot stand by and watch nurses suffer. They need assistance and Ontario must step up and do the correct thing,” Schreiner said.
Schreiner was joined by SEIU Nursing Division President and trained RPN Jackie Walker. Walker highlighted the struggles that nurses are facing. “19 months into the pandemic I still hear stories from nurses that keep me up at night. I hear from profession nurses. The morale has never been this low, not even in the course of the Mike Harris days.”
“The nursing shortage crisis is driven by harsh working conditions and low pay,” Schreiner stated. “Nurses have been the backbone of Ontario’s COVID-19 response. Many are burnt out, stressed and overworked from the past 18 months. As we proceed to navigate the present public health crisis, we want to make sure there’s enough staff to take care of patients without risk of burnout.
“Doug Ford must do the whole lot in his power to enhance the working conditions of nurses and address this staffing shortage immediately.”
In response to the Ontario Nurses’ Association, Ontario hospitals currently face an 18 to twenty per cent emptiness rate for nursing positions. And the Canadian Federation of Nurses Union estimates there are greater than 16,000 nursing vacancies within the province.
“Enough with the lip service. All of it comes right down to treating nurses with the respect they deserve”, Schreiner said.
“What does it say about us as a province if we will’t even protect those who protect us?
Schreiner specifically called on Doug Ford to:
- Repeal Bill 124 to present all nurses the raise they deserve
- Implement a program to pay all nurses an additional $5 an hour in the event that they are working on a short-staffed unit or department (10 or fewer scheduled nurses)
- Provide N95 respirators for all nurses to guard them from airborne transmission of COVID-19
- Make pandemic pay everlasting for all nurses
- Provide guaranteed access to mental health services for all nurses
- Bolster admissions to nursing baccalaureate programs by 10 per cent in each of the following 4 years and increase the provision of Nurse Practitioners by over 50 per cent by 2030, as per RNAO’s recommendations
- Streamline and expedite the lengthy strategy of granting nursing license to qualified internationally educated nurses through the College of Nurses of Ontario (CNO)
“These actions are about bringing financial and emotional relief to nurses which might be on the brink, “ Walker said. “Nurses which might be on the point of burnout and on the point of walking away”
“It’s about retention in addition to recruitment,” concluded Schreiner. “By investing in higher working conditions for nurses it is going to help address the present public health crisis in addition to prepare Ontario’s healthcare system for the longer term.”
Schreiner also sent an open letter to Premier Ford this morning calling on his government to take immediate motion to handle Ontario’s nursing shortage. Please find the complete letter as a PDF here.