RNAO’s ongoing media profile: The January 2024 report
RNAO was featured in media stories related to a survey about hospital workers’ dissatisfaction, a call for an audit into the use of nursing agencies, the need to open more NP-led clinics in Ontario, hospital deficits in the Hamilton area and efforts to stop the pending closure of Sudbury’s only supervised consumption site.
An Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU)/Canadian Union of Public Employees Ontario (CUPE) survey found that 41 per cent of respondents dread going to work at Ontario hospitals, largely because of ongoing staffing shortages. RNAO President Dr. Claudette Holloway told CP24 (Jan. 3) that one way for the government to retain and recruit nurses is to show them how valued they are. “Nurses want to hear more respect from our government as well as fair compensation and fair workloads…having a workplace where they can feel supported and grow their careers,” said Holloway. More recommendations on how to address this issue are outlined in RNAO’s Nursing Career Pathways report.
Many hospitals have been hiring temporary nurses from agencies to maintain staffing levels. Bonnie Crombie, the new leader of the Ontario Liberal Party, and MPP Dr. Adil Shamji called on the auditor general to investigate the value-for-money of utilizing nursing agencies. “When you get in the workplace where you have some agency nurses and some that are just paid by the establishment, then there’s this great difference in wage…The best use of our health-care dollars is to invest in publicly funded health care,” said Holloway in a CityNews story (Jan. 18).
In a Toronto Star (Jan. 18) letter to the editor in response to a story about the crisis in emergency departments, RNAO CEO Dr. Doris Grinspun wrote, “faster access to primary care and proper staffing of all health professionals in all sectors will serve Ontarians better and improve satisfaction and health outcomes.” To improve access to primary care, RNAO argues government must act immediately by announcing funding for more NP-led clinics. RNAO President-Elect Lhamo Dolkar also echoed this call in a Jan. 17 CBC News story (link unavailable).
Several hospitals in the Hamilton area are facing financial strain due to high demand and increasing costs, with many hospitals using lines of credit and loans. “Efficiency has become deficiency,” said Grinspun who also noted that more than a decade of cost cutting has destabilized the health system (Hamilton Spectator, Jan. 25). Hamilton Health Sciences was short $83.1 million after the first nine months of the fiscal year that started April 1, 2023. While the government needs to step in, Grinspun said that nurses don’t want them to just bail out the hospitals: “Nurses want the government to come and work with hospitals, primary care, nurses [and] doctors to solve our collective challenge. It is solvable” (Hamilton Spectator, Jan. 26).
Sudbury’s only sanctioned supervised consumption site is at risk of closing after the city voted to cease funding by the end of January. The city has indicated that health-care funding should be handled by the province instead. RNAO is advocating for bridge funding from the province as safety protocols are developed. During her visit to Sudbury, Holloway told Sudbury.com (Jan. 26) that there will be consequences to the closing of this site. “More lives will be lost. We should be concerned about that. We need to be concerned about every Ontarian,” said Holloway. She also noted that funding supervised consumption sites helps hospitals. “When you fund this kind of treatment centre, it’s going to have an impact and reduce pressures on hospitals and emergency rooms,” said Holloway (CTV News, Jan. 26).
RNAO will continue to speak out alongside its members on topics related to nursing and health. Stay up-to-date on media coverage by visiting RNAO in the news. Are you a member interested in speaking to reporters? Compete our short survey and a member of our communications team will be in touch.