Briefing Note – Ontario’s Commitment to RN Employment
Following their 2003 provincial election victory, the Liberal government introduced a Nursing Strategy for Ontario to address key areas of instability in the nursing workforce. The Strategy aims to increase the number of full-time positions for registered nurses to 70 per cent; hire 8,000 new nurses; improve retention and recruitment of all nurses; and improve work environments for nurses and other health professionals.
We support the efforts that the government has made so far, and we ask them to continue their progress by revitalizing their commitment in five key areas:
- Funding to ensure that no RNs are laid off as a result of hospital balanced budget plans;
- Increased targeted, conditional funding to health care organizations in all sectors to increase the share of RNs working full-time;
- Additional targeted funding to ensure that all newly graduating RNs can attain full-time employment;
- Tuition reimbursement for new graduating nurses willing to relocate to underserved northern and rural communities (1:1 and up to a total of four years BScN education);
- Ongoing targeted funding toward the 80/20 strategy (80% clinical work and 20% mentorship and educational activities). This funding will allow experienced RNs to mentor new graduates to ease their transition into the workforce and support retention of both new graduates and experienced RNs.
Recruitment and Retention
- 70 per cent full-time employment for RNs is essential to improving patient outcomes; ensuring system cost-effectiveness; improving recruitment and retention; and ensuring sustainability of the nursing profession.
- RNAO strongly supports the government’s conditional, targeted funding of $50 million to hospitals to increase their full-time nursing workforce. However, we are concerned that this amount is insufficient to reach the goal of 70 per cent full-time employment for RNs. $50 million per year amounts to less than two per cent of hospital nursing salaries and benefits . While the hospital sector has received targeted funding for full-time positions, other sectors, such as home care and long-term care, have not.
- 53% of RNs employed in Ontario are over the age of 45 – more than half of the nursing workforce . This means that more than 45,000 expert RNs will be eligible to retire in the next ten years. This impending shortage and loss of nursing expertise and experience will have negative implications for quality patient care and the next generation of nurses.
- The Late Career Initiative was initiated in 2004-05, and provided one-time funding of $28 million in 2005-06 for nurses in hospitals and long-term care facilities. This funding allows nurses over the age of 55 to spend part of their working hours in ‘less physically demanding’ roles, such as patient teaching or staff mentoring.
- 95% of young nurses surveyed for RNAO’s 70 Per Cent Solution indicated a strong preference for full-time employment, yet were the least likely age group to have it (only 38%). Similarly, a 2004 survey by the Nursing Health Services Research Unit showed that while 79% of nursing graduates wanted full-time employment, only 37% were able to attain it. As a result, graduates have had to consider other options: more than 50% of graduates in southwest Ontario were considering employment in the United States.
- The New Graduate Initiative provided 1,000 graduates with six months extended orientation to gain full-time experience in 2004-05.