Toronto, Oct. 8, 2013 – A portrait of the country’s nursing landscape shows Ontario continues to lag behind other provinces when it comes to the number of RNs available to care for patients.
The report, compiled by the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI), examined the number of registered nurses (RN) in the workforce between 2008 and 2012. While the RN workforce in the rest of Canada increased slightly from 8.29 in 2008 to 8.30 in 2012 per 1,000 people, Ontario’s declined. In fact, the RN workforce in Ontario for the same period decreased from 7.18 to 6.99 per 1,000 people, making it the province with the second lowest RN-to-population rate in Canada. “Put another way, Ontario has about 15.7 per cent fewer RNs per population than the rest of the country,” says Rhonda Seidman-Carlson, President of the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO). “The numbers speak for themselves and this does not bode well for Ontarians.”
Seidman-Carlson is also frustrated with the lack of government action: “This is an issue we first highlighted several years ago and the situation is getting worse. This news isn’t good for patient care because all the evidence points to the link between direct hours of RN care and positive patient outcomes. This is also bad news for registered nurses because it means heavier workloads and the inevitable stress, burnout and illness that come with that.”
RNAO’s Chief Executive Officer, Doris Grinspun, says the association has highlighted this concern repeatedly to Premier Kathleen Wynne and Health Minister Deb Matthews. RNAO says Ontario needs a minimum of 9,000 additional RNs by 2015 to begin catching up. “RNs are central to the delivery of health care in this province. They are needed everywhere, from hospitals to community care,” says Grinspun, adding that “more and more patients are being released from hospital with complex and ongoing care needs and you require RNs with the expertise and know-how to help them get better. How long do we have to wait before we -- registered nurses -- declare an emergency?” adds Grinspun.
Grinspun says members of RNAO want swift action and funding and will demand as much when they visit with MPPs in their local ridings during Queens Park on the Road (QPOR) being held throughout October and November. QPOR is part of the association’s campaign to improve patient care.
The Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO) is the professional association representing registered nurses wherever they practise in Ontario. Since 1925, RNAO has advocated 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.
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