2.12.13 - “We […] will hire more […] nurses”
Your Health: A Plan for Connected and Convenient Care was released in February 2023, with a key pillar being the hiring of more healthcare workers. The Ford government points to the steps already taken, such as expediting the registration of international nurses, and doctors from other provinces and territories, as well as temporarily reducing training fees for nurses. These are steps forward; however the government has been criticized for failing to remove Bill 124, which limits pay increases for public sector workers. Furthermore, there are concerns that these steps won’t lead to an immediate increase in nurses, given the time requried for training. This promise is in progress as it is contingent on the number of nurses at the end of the government’s second term being net positive compared to the start of the term.
“[…] “Hiring More Health Care Workers,” will work to expand the province’s workforce through hiring, training and education initiatives. […] The province said it will also expand its “Learn and Stay” grant starting this spring, which will be open for about 2,500 eligible postsecondary students. The grant covers educational costs, such as tuition and books, for those who enroll in “high-priority programs” in underserved communities – like nursing, paramedic and medical laboratory science – in exchange for working in those communities for up to two years following graduation. The government reiterated their new “As of Right” rules, which eliminated the registration requirement for out-of-province health-care workers in an effort to lower the barrier of entry for practicing in Ontario. The report also outlines the government’s efforts to make it “easier” and “faster” for international nurses to practice in the province. However, the president of the Ontario Nurses’ Association [Cathryn Hoy] has said these efforts would “in no way immediately fix Ontario’s severe nursing shortage.” “Internationally educated nurses will need supervision and mentoring when they enter the workplace,” Cathryn Hoy said at the time. “The nursing shortage means there is no one to do this.””
“[C]hanges proposed by the Ontario Ministry of Health, the College of Nurses of Ontario and the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario, will support recruitment efforts and make it faster and easier for health care professionals trained in Ontario, other provinces and internationally to register and practice in Ontario. Changes that will come into effect immediately, include: Allowing internationally educated nurses to register in a temporary class and begin working sooner while they work towards full registration; Making it easier for non-practicing or retired nurses to return to the field by introducing flexibility to the requirement that they need to have practiced nursing within a certain period of time before applying for reinstatement; and Creating a new temporary independent practice registration class for physicians from other provinces and territories, making it easier for them to work for up to 90 days in Ontario.”
“The announcement made this morning by the Ontario government reiterating a commitment made a year ago to fund up to 225 additional Nurse Practitioners to work in provincial long-term care homes – while a start – will take three years to implement and is far too few to meet the needs of Ontario’s 627 long-term care homes, says Ontario Nurses’ Association (ONA) President Cathryn Hoy, RN.”
Workers’ unions have expressed concerns about the number of people leaving the health care field, particularly in light of Bill 124 which caps public sector pay increases (including nursing) to 1%. However, for this promise to be considered broken, there would need to be data indicating that there are fewer nurses in the profession now than there were during Ford’s first term. This promise is considered not yet rated.
“The association was one of three health care unions — the ONA, CUPE and the Service Employees International Union, which together represent some 120,000 health care workers across the province — sounding the alarm over staffing shortages in Ontario’s hospitals. Their call comes as health care staff are said to be leaving the field in droves, leaving some hospitals unable to properly staff their emergency departments.”
[Ed. Note: See Employed in Nursing in Ontario. As of February 2022, there were 155,604 nurses working in Ontario.]
“The Act establishes different three-year moderation periods for represented and non-represented employees. During the applicable moderation period, salary increases are limited to one per cent for each 12-month period of the moderation period.”