Ontario Sacrificing Nurses' Health in Quest for Balanced Budgets: Research shows understaffing is causing more work-related injuries, illness

TORONTO, May 10, 2013 /CNW/ - In the quest to cut costs and balance hospital budgets, Ontario hospitals are sacrificing the health of registered nurses, according to new research.

Registered nurses (RNs) are the most injured workers in Ontario, facing more dangerous workplace conditions than even construction or manufacturing workers. RNs filed more Workplace Safety and Insurance Board claims in 2012 than all other hospital occupations, three times more claims than made by construction trades workers and 12 times more than all chemistry industry occupations.

"These statistics show exactly the effects of understaffing and workloads that are far too heavy to be safe for nurses or consistent with the provision of the quality patient care Ontarians need and deserve," says Ontario Nurses' Association (ONA) President Linda Haslam-Stroud, RN. "As much as we love our profession, we sacrifice our health each and every day."

Ontario has the second-worst RN to population ratio in the country and this leaves nurses - who perform a role that is both mentally and physically demanding - even more at risk in this province.

The latest statistics show that the total number of WSIB claims filed by hospital RNs in 2012 is more than the total number filed in 2012 by form work and demolition workers, roofing workers, and meat, fish and chemical manufacturing workers combined. 

Haslam-Stroud says that RNs are working short-staffed regularly in Ontario's health care system, including in hospitals, community care, public health and long-term care.

"A decade ago, the SARS Commission pointed out that that there is a profound lack of awareness in the health system of worker safety, best practices and principles," she says. "This research shows that the health of front-line nurses is being sacrificed on a systematic basis because of overwork and understaffing."

Further, "this is Nursing Week 2013, and RNs are now facing more position cuts because hospital budgets have been flatlined again," says Haslam-Stroud.

"Enough is enough. ONA calls on the government to commit to a plan to create and fill 15,500 RN positions across the health care sector and bring RN levels up to the Canadian average, and demonstrate its commitment to quality care and nurses' health and safety."

The full research paper can be found on ONA's website (www.ona.org).

ONA is the union representing 60,000 front-line registered nurses, nurse practitioners, registered practical nurses and allied health professionals as well as more than 14,000 nursing student affiliates providing care in Ontario hospitals, long-term care facilities, public health, the community, industry and clinics.

SOURCE: Ontario Nurses' Association

For further information:

Ontario Nurses' Association

Melanie Levenson
(416) 964-8833, ext. 2369; melaniel@ona.org

Ruth Featherstone
(416) 964-8833, ext. 2267; ruthf@ona.org 

Visit us at: www.ona.orgwww.Facebook.com/OntarioNurseswww.Twitter.com/OntarioNurses

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