Report shows face of Ontario RN workforce continues to age
But picture on full-time jobs, education improving: RNAO calls for faster infusion of full-time RNs
TORONTO, Dec. 14, 2004 – Results from a report on workforce trends of registered nurses reinforce the acute need for a faster infusion of RNs to provide the care Ontarians need, says the president of the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO).
Joan Lesmond was responding to the findings of a report released today by the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI). With an average age of 45.1, Ontario’s RN workforce continues to be the second oldest in the country. What’s more worrisome, says Lesmond, is that almost 10,000 RNs are projected to retire by 2006. On top of that, Ontario is below the Canadian average on the share of the RN workforce aged 30 and under (6.8 per cent versus 8.6 per cent).
“The implications are as clear as the need for action. We need to redouble our efforts to recruit RNs to replace those who are retiring,” said Lesmond. “At the same time, it is essential to retain the expertise and experience of RNs already in the system. And to do that, you need to provide healthy work environments,” said Lesmond.
Lesmond noted, however, that there are some positive signs, with indicators going in the right direction. The percentage of RNs with baccalaureate degrees increased to 23.9 per cent from 20.9 in 1999. There is also a slight increase in the percentage of RNs working full time in Ontario, from 56.9 per cent in 2002 to 58.7 per cent in 2003. With that comes a decrease in the percentage of part-time and casual nursing employment: from 43.1 per cent to 41.3 per cent. Lesmond noted that this is still well short of meeting RNAO’s target of having 70 per cent of all RNs in the workforce employed full time, with 30 per cent available for work on a part-time or casual basis.
“For Ontarians to receive the quantity and quality of nursing care they need and deserve, we need the right number and mix of RNs, practising in the right places, under the right terms and conditions,” said Lesmond. “Today’s results show we have a lot of work to do to put the profession on a solid footing to meet the health-care needs of the future.”
RNAO’s acting executive director Irmajean Bajnok said the Ontario government’s recent investments in nursing, including funds for full-time positions for new graduates, post-graduate studies, mentoring and clinical simulations, should help improve next year’s picture of the RN workforce. But she added that the government’s ambitious plans to change how Ontarians receive health care will require a significant infusion of RNs into the community.
The Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO) is the professional association representing registered nurses wherever they practise in Ontario. Since 1925, RNAO has lobbied for healthy public policy, promoted excellence in nursing practice, increased nurses’ contribution to shaping the health-care system, and influenced decisions that affect nurses and the public they serve.