Arbitrator’s decision to increase nurses’ compensation is crucial first step to build nursing for Ontarians, RNAO says

July 21, 2023

The Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO) is pleased that Ontario’s hospital nurses will receive a meaningful compensation increase thanks to an arbitrator’s decision to support a case presented by the union, the Ontario Nurses’ Association (ONA). This ruling marks a long overdue and critical first step to retain and attract nurses in Ontario, and sends a clear message to frontline nurses that their work is valued and vital to the health system.

“Thank you to arbitration board chair William Kaplan for recognizing that fair compensation is fundamental to keeping nurses in the profession and in our province,” says RNAO President Dr. Claudette Holloway. She is heartened that Kaplan voiced in his ruling the detrimental effect of the combination of low wages and inflation on the ability to retain and recruit nurses. “Today marks a new, more hopeful day for nurses and Ontarians, as without nurses the health system crumbles. You cannot have an effective health system when you underpay and undervalue the work of nurses.”

The hourly wages of hospital nurses in Ontario will rise significantly, a move that the arbitrator hopes will keep and attract nurses to address staffing shortages. This is the first contract that hospital nurses negotiated following Bill 124 – a wage-suppressing bill that tipped the nursing profession in Ontario into crisis, amid a global pandemic. “Although we applaud the outcome, it is unfortunate that the latest round of contract talks between ONA and the Ontario Hospital Association had to resort to arbitration and result in overreliance on agency nursing, as well as the exodus of nurses to other jurisdictions or the profession altogether. We hope the Ontario government will change its approach and that future bargaining leads to fair agreements so we can continue to build nursing for Ontarians,” adds Holloway.

Since 2016, RNAO has recommended repeatedly – most recently in its Nursing Career Pathways report – to increase compensation for Ontario nurses in all roles, domains and sectors to bring it in line with other jurisdictions, including the United States. Competitive compensation is a key part of retaining and attracting nurses in Ontario. It leads to increased staffing and in turn safer and healthy workloads – another recommendation outlined in the report.

“This fair and wise ruling is an essential building block for the nursing profession in Ontario, although the task is not completed,” says RNAO CEO Dr. Doris Grinspun. “We’re very hopeful that increasing compensation – together with increasing nursing seats in baccalaureate programs, expediting applications of internationally educated nurses who reside in Ontario, and expanding nursing programs so registered practical nurses can bridge to becoming registered nurses more quickly – will allow our profession to thrive for Ontarians,” adds Grinspun.

RNAO commends its colleagues at ONA for their persistence and expertise during negotiations and arbitration, and extend gratitude to all nurses and professional associations who voiced their concerns. “We thank our more than 50,000 members, many of whom signed and shared Action Alerts, participated in rallies, and spoke up about the importance of fair compensation. This ruling reflects nurses’ unwavering resolve to work in unity advocating for what we know will strengthen nursing and the health system,” says Grinspun.

The Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO) is the professional association representing registered nurses, nurse practitioners and nursing students in Ontario. Since 1925, RNAO has advocated for healthy public policy, promoted excellence in nursing practice, increased nurses’ contribution to shaping the health system, and influenced decisions that affect nurses and the public we serve. For more information about RNAO, visit or follow us on TwitterFacebook and Instagram.

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Contact info

Madison Scaini
Communications Officer/Writer
Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario (RNAO)
Marion Zych
Director of Communications
Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario (RNAO)