QUEEN’S PARK – The provincial government should fund the hiring of 2,000 full-time nurses in 2004 as the first step towards adding 8,000 to Ontario’s health care system over the next four years, NDP Health Critic Shelley Martel says.
“We should be training nurses for Cornwall, not Connecticut,” Martel said. “I’m calling on the McGuinty government to hire 2,000 full-time nurses this year and 2,000 in each of the next three years.”
More than 5,400 Ontario RNs have left, most of them to work in the U.S. Meanwhile, Ontario has the second worst RN per capita ratio in Canada: 67.6 RNs per 100,000 people, compared to a national average of 74.3.
Almost 45 per cent of RNs work part-time and have to take two or three part-time jobs to earn a decent living because hospitals and other health care institutions lack the funds to hire full-time nurses. That’s why more and more Ontario-trained RNs leave the province.
“We must immediately create many more opportunities for full-time employment for RNs currently in the system and to prevent the drain of hundreds of new graduates to the U.S. Ontario cannot afford to lose a single new graduate,” said RNAO president-elect Joan Lesmond.
“I wanted to work in Ontario, but I do not regret my decision to leave,” said Christine Weeden, a recent nursing graduate frustrated by the futile search for full-time employment in Ontario. Weeden has accepted a full-time nursing position in Connecticut and is leaving Ontario Feb. 10. “I have no plans to return to Canada until registered nurses are offered full-time jobs and significant changes are made to support nurses, especially new grads,” she added.
Martel said hiring 2,000 new permanent full-time registered nurses would cost about $100 million. The funds could come out of the $500 million raised by eliminating the Employer Health Tax exemption on the first $400,000 in payrolls for firms with more than $2 million in payrolls.-30-