TORONTO, Dec. 8, 2004 – The Ontario government’s latest investment in nursing will help stem the flow of new nursing graduates to the south, enrich students’ clinical education, and improve the quality and quantity of patient care, the president of the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO) said today.
Joan Lesmond was responding to the rollout of more than $29 million to fund the next steps in the government’s nursing strategy announced today by Minister of Health and Long-Term Care George Smitherman. RNAO expects that more than 1,000 newly graduated RNs will be hired into full-time positions in hospitals and long-term care facilities and will receive expert mentorship from their senior RN colleagues. The association is also delighted with the funding for clinical simulation programs for colleges and universities; they will serve to augment the bedside clinical education nursing students receive.
“We applaud the government for hearing - and heeding - RNAO’s call for more full-time work for registered nurses, better support for new graduates, and improved clinical education for students,” said Lesmond. “During these transformative times, it is important to acknowledge when we make progress. I’m pleased to say that today’s announcement is progress – progress for a profession that too often has lost its new RN graduates to the United States and other jurisdictions offering full-time work,” she said.
Forty-two per cent of all working RNs do not have full-time employment and for many, this is not by choice. RNAO is pleased the government continues to move on its commitment to bring the proportion of RNs working full time to 70 per cent - RNAO’s “70 per cent solution.” “This overreliance on part-time and casual work hurts retention, hinders recruitment, and is a threat to safe and quality patient care,” said Lesmond.
Lesmond said today’s announcement continues a refreshing trend toward rebuilding the nursing profession, but she reminded Minister Smitherman that Ontario – with the worst nurse-to-population ratio in the country – has a lot of ground to make up.
“As the transformation of health care in Ontario unfolds, RNAO will be looking to the Minister to assure nurses that while new graduates enter one door, other RNs are not being laid off and exiting through another. We trust that the Minister will work with RNAO and the nursing profession as together we keep our eye on the prize: a truly improved publicly funded, not-for-profit health-care system.”
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.