KINGSTON — Ontario Greens’ health critic and candidate for Lanark-Frontenac-Kingston Dr. Marlene Spruyt called for urgent action to address the nursing shortage crisis at a cross-party health-care summit this morning.
The summit included health-care leaders from organizations including the Ontario Nurses’ Association and the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario, along with Ontario Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca and Ontario NDP health care critic France Gélinas.
In September, the Ontario Greens released a comprehensive recruitment and retention plan to address the nursing shortage and wrote a letter to Premier Ford, urging him to take immediate action.
“The crisis situation Ontario finds itself in now is exactly what we were trying to avoid with our nursing recruitment and retention plan,” Spruyt said. “Nurses are burnt out and overworked and hospitals are under severe pressure.”
“But instead of taking the proper steps to address the nursing shortage crisis, Doug Ford thumbed his nose at our proposals.”
The Ontario Greens’ plan includes recalling the legislature to immediately repeal Bill 124 and fast-tracking internationally educated nurses.
There are currently 15,000 internationally educated registered nurses waiting to be approved to work in Ontario — but they’re stuck in the lengthy qualification process.
Other key measures in the Ontario Greens’ plan include:
- Implementing a program to pay all nurses an additional $5 an hour if they are working on a short-staffed unit or department (10 or fewer scheduled nurses)
- Bolstering admissions to nursing baccalaureate programs by 10 per cent in each of the next four years and increase the supply of Nurse Practitioners by over 50 per cent by 2030, as per RNAO’s recommendation
- Making pandemic pay permanent for all nurses
- Providing guaranteed access to mental health services for all nurses
Dr. Spruyt also brought up the important issue of wage parity across health care during the summit.
“We don’t have a health care system in Ontario,” Dr. Spruyt said. “We have a number of health care sectors that are siloed. We need to reimagine health care in Ontario to be more comprehensive and wholistic.”
“And that includes wage parity to avoid a revolving door of workers moving from one underpaid sector to another.”
You can find the Ontario Greens’ full nursing nursing recruitment and retention plan here.