Registed Nurses' Association of Ontario

Budget fails to address nursing shortage: Nurses say

Budget fails to address nursing shortage: Nurses say


TORONTOMar. 26, 2009 – Nurses are disappointed that the budget unveiled by the McGuinty government is a tax cut budget that doesn’t adequately address the health-care needs of Ontarians. The Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO) says health care is not a sunny day expenditure that can be tossed aside during times of recession.    

“We understand that the province is in the midst of economic challenges and for that reason, this is not the time to introduce tax cuts.  Instead, the government should have heeded the voices of nurses and not put us on the road to a devastating nursing shortage. Nurses expected to see 3,000 additional funded positions in this budget. The 900 positions announced will do little for patient care and little to retain nurses in Ontario,” says RNAO President Wendy Fucile.

RNAO says the McGuinty government’s effective and successful Nursing Graduate Guarantee, which enables employers to hire new graduates full-time for a six month period, may go to waste if only 900 positions are funded in the coming year. Fucile says: “In the midst of a national and global shortage, can we afford to have Ontario’s nursing graduates facing the same barriers to employment that nurses experienced during the 90s?” She adds this budget sends the wrong message also to senior nurses, who are already facing enormous workloads and stress, and whose knowledge and expertise Ontario is at risk of losing to early retirement.  

The association praises the government’s plan to move forward with funding of 22 additional Nurse Practitioner-led clinics, in addition to the three set to open in 2009 in Belle River, Sault Ste. Marie and Thunder Bay.  “Thousands of people across this province lack access to primary care. Today’s renewed commitment paves the way for them to receive care from a team of health-care professionals led by nurse practitioners working in collaboration with physicians, social workers, dieticians and others,” says Fucile.

RNAO welcomes the $7 billion dollars in infrastructure investment for hospital construction but is gravely concerned that the government hasn’t learned the lessons that public/private partnerships, otherwise known as P3s, cost more than traditional models for building new hospitals.  “Not only does this make poor economic sense, the evidence shows it also reduces the quality of services,” says Doris Grinspun, Executive Director of RNAO.

RNAO is pleased with the bold steps announced today to address the human tragedy of poverty in Ontario. Nurses know the clear link between poverty and ill health and premature death. “Increases in the Ontario Child Benefit, investments in affordable housing and the welcome increase in social assistance rates will help ease the burden facing the 1.3 million people living in poverty in this province,” says Grinspun, adding that nurses look forward to other essential steps to meet the province’s goal of reducing poverty by 25 per cent over five years.    

RNAO also welcomes the funding for green jobs. “Nurses have been at the forefront advocating for environmental measures that will improve the health of Ontarians, including green energy, reductions in toxins and carcinogens and a ban on cosmetic pesticides,” adds Grinspun.

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.

Please contact:
Marion Zych, Director of Communications
Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario
Office: 416-408-5605