Retain and Hire RNs and Increase Minimum Wage
For the past several months, RNAO’s advocacy has been focused on two main priorities. One involves hiring and retaining RNs. Ontario has the second lowest RN-to-population ratio in the country. This isn’t good for patients and it isn’t good for the future of the profession. Our other priority is a higher minimum wage. Despite the Liberal’s government’s pledge to increase the minimum wage to $11 per hour, it’s not enough to make a difference in the lives of the working poor. RNAO, along with other health and poverty groups, believe a more reasonable and living wage is $14 per hour. That’s why our pre-budget submission to the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs reinforced the need for action on these two key issues in the next provincial budget.
- Retain and Hire additional RNs: Ontario’s nurse-to-population ratio lags far behind the rest of the country. In fact, Ontario needs 17, 588 more RNs to just catch up to the rest of Canada! New nursing graduates are having a tough time finding work in Ontario, and once they move away, they aren’t likely to come back. Some 6000 RNs are working in nursing outside Ontario with over 3000 working in the United States. That’s a loss of expertise that we can’t afford. In the next Budget, we need concrete action to focus full attention on RN retention and hiring additional RNs.
- Raise the minimum wage: Since 2010, the minimum wage has been frozen at $10.25 per hour in Ontario. On January 30th, the Premier announced the minimum wage would increase to $11.00 per hour beginning June 1st and be indexed to the rate of inflation after that. While an increase of 75 cents is a start, the reality is a worker employed full-time on minimum wage at $11.00 per hour, still has an income which is 16% below the poverty line. Low income has a huge impact on health and well-being. We can and must do better. Ontario’s lowest wage workers need a minimum wage of $14.00 per hour now. Nurses know that low income also has a huge impact on health and well-being. A study of health in Hamilton revealed a 21-year difference in life expectancy between a high and a low income neighbourhood. We can and must do better! In the next Budget, we need concrete action to raise the minimum wage to $14 per hour.
- Send this letter to Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne. Copies will be automatically sent to all cabinet ministers, the opposition leaders and the opposition health and social services critics.
- Forward this Action Alert to others and ask them to send this letter.