TORONTO, Oct. 26, 2005 – The number of RNs working in Ontario is not even keeping pace with the province’s population growth – a statistic that must serve as a wake-up call to Ontarians and their government, the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO) said today in response to the release of a report by the Canadian Institute of Health Information (CIHI).
That report, called Workforce Trends of Registered Nurses in Canada, 2004 , reveals that Ontario’s RN workforce increased by only 1.1 per cent from 2003 to 2004 – from 85,187 to 86,099 – while the province’s population grew by 1.2 per cent over the same period. In addition, Ontario’s growth in its RN workforce is more than a full percentage point below the national RN workforce increase of 2.2 per cent.
“This disturbing data means that the Ontario government must rekindle and redouble its efforts to ensure that enough RNs will be available to provide the public with the care they need and deserve,” said RNAO president Joan Lesmond. “The only way Ontario can catch up to the rest of the country is for the government to deliver on its promise to create 8,000 more full-time RN positions by 2007-2008. The government still has a long way to go, so new funding has to start flowing immediately,” said Lesmond.
Lesmond added that Ontario will not be able to reduce wait times, respond adequately to any health emergencies, or make health-care reform happen without enough nurses and other health-care professionals providing services in a better way.
RNAO executive director Doris Grinspun said that while the overall number of nurses in Ontario is indeed worrisome, some improvements in the profile of the provincial nursing workforce emerge from the report. For instance, for the first time in nine years, the average age of the Ontario RN workforce is holding steady at 45.1 years. And the share of the Ontario RN workforce under age 30 has increased from 7.8 per cent to 8.3 per cent. It’s also promising, she said, that Ontario has the highest percentage of its RN workforce working for a single employer – 94 per cent in 2004 up from 90 per cent in 2003. This improvement flows from an increase in 2004 in the percentage of Ontario RNs working full time – from 58.7 to 59.6 per cent.
“These improvements, especially in increased full-time work and in more opportunities for younger graduates, are directly related to the investments that the nursing profession secured from the provincial government. Clearly, these investments are paying off for nursing and the public it serves. What we need now are more investments to pick up the pace of progress,” says Grinspun.
The Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario 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.