Nursing crisis risks patient safety and health of Ontarians: Premier Ford must #RepealBill124 to prevent health-system collapse
The Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO) says the provincial government’s failure to repeal Bill 124 is wreaking havoc on the nursing profession, patient safety and Ontario’s health-care system. RNAO warns that the government must take swift action to confront the province’s nursing crisis, to make sure there are enough nurses – especially registered nurses (RN) – available to deal with the coming fifth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic and the backlog of procedures and surgeries.
At a media conference today, RNAO laid out a grim scenario as Ontario recorded another 1,429 new infections and five COVID-related deaths. At issue is a major nursing human resources crisis exacerbated by Bill 124, the legislation passed by Premier Ford which caps salary increases to just one per cent. The increase actually results in a reduction in pay when inflation is taken into account. This is a slap in the face to nurses at a time when they are working harder and harder to care for Ontarians.
“Bill 124 is having a detrimental effect on the profession, like nothing I have seen before. We are losing nurses of all categories and we are hemorrhaging RNs. Ontario had a shortfall of 22,000 RNs before this pandemic began. And, when you factor in the length of the pandemic and the exhaustion and burnout our colleagues have been experiencing, we desperately need a government that recognizes nurses’ efforts and brings hope by moving to immediately #RepealBill124,” urges Dr. Doris Grinspun, RNAO’s CEO.
RNAO outlined the gravity of the situation at a rally on Nov. 14, when nurses and allies gathered and implored Premier Ford to repeal Bill 124 within 30 days. “Today (Dec. 14) marks the end of the countdown. We are at day zero and nurses are stunned they have been met with complete silence from the premier. This is being perceived as a blatant lack of respect for nurses, who have been under tremendous pressure and who have sacrificed and risked their lives and the lives of their loved ones for the past 22 months,” Grinspun says, echoing nurses in the field.
While the government has taken no action, RNAO has been heartened by the support it is receiving from opposition MPPs. During today’s media conference, RNAO revealed that all of Ontario’s NDP, Liberal and Green party MPPs have signed a letter pledging that they will vote to #RepealBill124 if Premier Ford enacts legislation to repeal it.
“As health-care professionals grapple with two variants of COVID-19 – Delta and a galloping Omicron – and we are in a rush to get vaccines into the arms of as many Ontarians as possible, it is obvious the health system is once again at risk of collapsing. Thus, we implore once again to Premier Ford to #StandWithNurses and #RepealBill124,” says RNAO President Morgan Hoffarth.
“In the coming days and weeks, while people spend time with friends and family, nurses will continue the fight of their lives on the frontlines. Ontarians must understand the gravity of the situation because it ultimately affects their safety as patients and their access to health services,” says Hoffarth. “The province’s nursing crisis demands a fulsome plan, and a critical first step is to #RepealBill24.”
“As part of its campaign to #RepealBill124, RNAO is asking its 48,500 members and allies from other professions and the public to drop off cards at their MPP local constituency offices to thank those politicians who are supporting us and ask others to sign our pledge,” says Hoffarth. People can also join RNAO’s campaign online.
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 RNAO.ca or follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
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