Ontario Nurses Demand Harper Government Sign Health Accord to Address Nursing Gap

March 28, 2014

TORONTO, March 28, 2014 /CNW/ – The Ontario Nurses’ Association (ONA) is
calling on Stephen Harper’s federal government to move on a new
national Health Accord that will help Ontario address a nursing gap
that puts the province second last in the country in the registered
nurse (RN)-to-population ratio.

“Ontarians deserve the same high-quality health care as every other
Canadian, yet Ontario – the most populous province in the country – has
just seven RNs per 1,000 Ontarians. We need to hire 17,500 more RNs in
Ontario just to catch up to the other provinces, and yet we saw the
loss of some 1,000 RN jobs since 2012,” said ONA President Linda
Haslam-Stroud, RN.

“Our ability to address that grievous gap in nursing care is predicated
on the federal government’s equitable funding of the provinces. While
Ontario has to address a budgetary freeze for health care funding that
has undercut our ability to attract and retain experienced RNs, the
federal government bears a responsibility for shortchanging the

In December 2011, the Harper government announced a major cut to the
Canada Health Transfer (CHT) of $36 billion over 10 years beginning in
2017. However, the equalization portion of the CHT is being eliminated
in 2014, which reduces transfers by another $16.5 billion over the next
five years.

Failure to negotiate a new Health Accord will create additional fiscal
pressures on Ontario, which faces an aging population and increased
demands for complex care requiring the skills and expertise of RNs.

Research shows a direct link between the number of RNs and the quality
of patient care; for every extra patient added to the average RN
workload, patient complications and deaths increase by 7 per cent.

“Unless federal funding is stable and adequate, our cherished national
public health care system is in danger, and specifically in Ontario,
this will have a devastating impact on the ability of our RNs to
provide safe, high-quality patient care,” said Haslam-Stroud.

According to Ontario Health Minister Deb Matthews, the province will be
short $300 million this year for health care because the federal
government has broken its promise to all provinces for a six-per-cent
increase in health transfers for two years after the expiry of the
Health Accord.

ONA agrees with Health Minister Matthews’ assessment when she said,
“It’s less money to reduce wait times, it’s less money to hire nurses,
it’s less time to provide Ontario families and particularly Ontario
seniors with the care that they need.”

“The federal government is apparently willing to balance its budget on
the backs of Ontario nurses and their patients,” said Haslam-Stroud.

ONA is the union representing 60,000 registered nurses and allied health
professionals, as well as more than 14,000 nursing student affiliates
providing care in hospitals, long-term care facilities, public health,
the community, clinics and industry.

SOURCE Ontario Nurses’ Association

Source: PR Newswire

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