ONA says hospital funding increases positive, but must be targeted for more RN care
TORONTO, March 28, 2018 /CNW/ - The Ontario Nurses' Association (ONA) says today's provincial budget announcement of more health-care funding for hospitals is a step in the right direction for improving patient care and addressing hospital overcrowding, though it is imperative that the funds translate into more bedside registered nurse (RN) care.
ONA President Vicki McKenna, RN, said, "The additional funding announced in today's budget will help address hallway nursing concerns; however, what our patients need most is an RN at the bedside to provide quality care. The next steps should be multi-year funding for strategic planning and capacity building. This province desperately needs dedicated funding to fix the RN shortage and bring Ontario up from the bottom of the barrel when it comes to the RN-to-population ratio. Currently, Ontario has the absolute worst number of RNs per population – it's shameful."
McKenna notes that Ontario hospital patients suffer from complex health issues which require the skills and education of RN care, yet in the face of underfunding, hospitals have cut RN positions by the thousands in recent years to balance their budgets. Studies show that more RN care reduces patient morbidity and mortality, saving the system money in the long term.
The budget announcement of increased RN care for long-term care residents is also positive, says McKenna, while noting that the four hours of care per day per resident budget commitment is spread over four years. "Our frail and vulnerable long-term care residents need that care level now – care that should be care provided by nurses and personal support workers," she said.
Public health is being restructured with no increase to funding, something McKenna calls a "short-sighted decision and bad news for Ontarians. The work our public health system does to prevent illness and injury in our communities will suffer."
She adds that the budget again fails to provide parity between health-care sectors for its RNs, and that while home care funding increases are welcome and it is a start, more needs to be done. The funding is not enough to eliminate long wait lists for care. McKenna notes that other provinces across Canada pay nurses parity wages, unlike in Ontario, where RNs in some sectors are paid less than hospital RNs, making it difficult to recruit and retain them.
ONA is pleased to see the inclusion of nurses in Ontario's First Responders presumptive PTSD legislation, as promised to the province's nurses last December.
ONA is the union representing 65,000 registered nurses and health-care professionals, as well as 16,000 nursing student affiliates, providing care in hospitals, long-term care facilities, public health, the community, clinics and industry.
SOURCE Ontario Nurses Association
For further information: Sheree Bond: Cell: (416) 986-8240; [email protected]