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TORONTO — Mike Schreiner made the following statement in response to news that nurses are seeking mental health help more than any other front-line health-care profession:

“The pandemic has taken a disproportionate toll on nurses and they deserve affordable and accessible mental health care.

According to Mental Health Research Canada, the average anxiety rating for nurses is up 50 per cent from pre-pandemic levels.

Nurses are the heart and soul of our health care system and the backbone of Ontario’s COVID-19 response. The least we can do is provide care for the heroes that care for us.

I have written to the Premier and continue to call on the government to provide permanent, guaranteed access to mental health services for all nurses. For too long have they ignored the needs of nurses.

We also need to address the root causes of the nursing staffing shortage that is worsening nurses’ mental health and leading to burnout.

That means immediately repealing Bill 124, which suppresses nurses’ right to collective bargaining.”

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