According to statistics released this week by the College of Nurses of Ontario, the number of RNs working in Ontario increased by 671 in 2007. The Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO) says this is the second consecutive year of insufficient growth in RN employment. In 2006, the numbers of RNs working in the province increased by just 643.
“The most recent numbers show a very worrisome and alarming trend,” says Doris Grinspun, executive director of RNAO. “Ensuring a stable supply of RNs is central to safe patient care and if improvements are not seen soon, Ontarians will be at risk.”
RNAO says these figures pale in comparison to 2005, early in the McGuinty government’s first mandate when the number of RNs increased by 3,480.
“We have communicated to government, on numerous occasions, that it must allocate targeted funding for nurses and for full-time employment if the government wants to see results similar to 2005,” says Grinspun. “We will be looking for targeted funding in the upcoming budget. This is the only way to ensure that the government will meet its platform and throne speech commitments to hire an additional 9,000 nurses,” adds Grinspun.
Although the data show the government has serious work ahead, there is a silver lining in the statistics report. The share of RNs working full-time rose to 63 per cent in 2007 from 61.6 per cent over the previous year. “This is proof that the government is making progress on the share of RNs working full-time,” says Mary Ferguson-Pare, president of RNAO.
The increase in full-time employment was accompanied by a decrease of RNs reporting employment outside of Ontario. This is consistent with RNAO’s message that a majority RNs wish to work full-time. In fact, outside of Ontario, 75 per cent of RNs employed were working full-time. RNAO says the ability to find a full-time job in the province must be a top priority in any recruitment and retention strategy. “We must continue to work towards our goal of 70 per cent of RNs working full-time by 2010 because there is ample evidence that this aids in providing continuity of care, improves health outcomes for patients and leads to greater job satisfaction among nurses,” says Ferguson-Pare.
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.