January 13th, 2022

ONA, NDP say 22,000 more nurses are needed

Horwath and Hoy lay out solutions to address the nursing shortage

QUEEN’S PARK AND TORONTO — Leader of the Official Opposition NDP Andrea Horwath, and President of the Ontario Nurses’ Association Cathryn Hoy, RN joined together Thursday morning to say they believe Ontario now needs 22,000 more nurses — and together laid out solutions to solve the shortage.

“Nurses are run off their feet, working double shifts day after day, and caring for too many patients at once, all the time,” said Horwath. “They’re wiped-out, and they can’t keep going like this, no matter how often they get called heroes. We have to do better for them, and for patients.”

Hospital funding freezes caused 1,600 nurse layoffs during the last Liberal government, leaving Ontario with the worst RN-to-population ratio in Canada. Burnt-out and disrespected nurses leaving in droves during the pandemic, and nurses getting sick in record numbers, has left Ontario with a short-staffing catastrophe.

“Nurses began this pandemic at a disadvantage,” said Hoy. “Years of cuts and funding freezes meant they were already swamped on every shift. But instead of fixing that, Doug Ford brought in his wage-suppression law, Bill 124, which drove thousands of our members to walk away. Not having paid sick days or mental health supports drove out even more. Not having consistent access to N95 masks is causing more of them to get sick.”

“The good news is that these problems are all solvable, and with a package like the one Andrea Horwath and I are calling for, I believe we can turn things around quickly and start to add more nurses to hospitals every day — during the pandemic, and after.”

Horwath and Hoy said the urgent and long-term solutions to the nursing shortage include:

  • Repeal Ford’s low-wage law, bill 124
  • Making more nursing positions full-time instead of part-time or temporary
  • Keep existing nurses and health-care workers by improving their working conditions – end team nursing, and have proper skill mix
  • Create new jobs for late-career and recently-retired nurses to mentor and support
  • Provide free, in-person mental health supports for all frontline health care workers
  • Provide 10 permanent paid sick days, plus 14 during a pandemic
  • Provide full access to PPE, including N95 masks, all the time
  • Mandate a minimum four hours of hands-on care by nurses and PSWs for every nursing home resident now
  • Fund more university seats for nursing programs and fix issues with clinical placements