QUEEN’S PARK — Mike Schreiner made the following statement on the nursing shortage crisis:
“The Premier’s refusal to improve working conditions and pay for nurses has led to a health care staffing crisis.
Nurses are the heart and soul of our healthcare system and COVID-19 response.
Many are burnt out, stressed and overworked from the past 18 months. And it’s driving them away from the profession.
According to the Ontario Nurses’ Association, Ontario hospitals currently face an 18 to 20 per cent vacancy rate for nursing positions.
Yet the Premier is sitting idly, turning a blind eye, and doubling down on backwards legislation like Bill 124.
Since the summer, I have been advocating to solve this crisis.
I’ve repeatedly called on the Premier to take action to improve working conditions and pay for nurses with the following measures:
- Repeal Bill 124 to give all nurses the raise they deserve
- Implement 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)
- Provide N95 respirators for all nurses to protect them from airborne transmission of COVID-19
- Make pandemic pay permanent 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 next four years and increase the supply of Nurse Practitioners by over 50 per cent by 2030, as per RNAO’s recommendations
- Streamline and expedite the lengthy process of granting nursing licenses to qualified internationally educated nurses through the College of Nurses of Ontario (CNO)
I urge the Premier to implement all these ideas urgently. Ontario’s healthcare system is at risk because of shortsighted policies and a refusal to improve nurses’ working conditions and pay.
I’ll continue to lead the way and stand up for nurses at Queen’s Park.”