The heath-care needs of Ontarians depend on government delivering on election promise to hire 9,000 additional nurses

    TORONTO, Jan. 7 /CNW/ - The ability to provide Ontarians with the health
care they need and deserve will require vigorous and concerted efforts by the
government to ensure there are more nurses working in the province.
    According to statistics released this week by the College of Nurses of
Ontario, the number of RNs working in Ontario increased by 671 in 2007. The
Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario (RNAO) says this is the second
consecutive year of insufficient growth in RN employment. In 2006, the numbers
of RNs working in the province increased by just 643.
    "The most recent numbers show a very worrisome and alarming trend," says
Doris Grinspun, executive director of RNAO. "Ensuring a stable supply of RNs
is central to safe patient care and if improvements are not seen soon,
Ontarians will be at risk."
    RNAO says these figures pale in comparison to 2005, early in the McGuinty
government's first mandate when the number of RNs increased by 3,480.
    "We have communicated to government, on numerous occasions, that it must
allocate targeted funding for nurses and for full-time employment if the
government wants to see results similar to 2005," says Grinspun. "We will be
looking for targeted funding in the upcoming budget. This is the only way to
ensure that the government will meet its platform and throne speech
commitments to hire an additional 9,000 nurses," adds Grinspun.
    Although the data show the government has serious work ahead, there is a
silver lining in the statistics report. The share of RNs working full-time
rose to 63 per cent in 2007 from 61.6 per cent over the previous year. "This
is proof that the government is making progress on the share of RNs working
full-time," says Mary Ferguson-Pare, president of RNAO.
    The increase in full-time employment was accompanied by a decrease of RNs
reporting employment outside of Ontario. This is consistent with RNAO's
message that a majority RNs wish to work full-time. In fact, outside of
Ontario, 75 per cent of RNs employed were working full-time. RNAO says the
ability to find a full-time job in the province must be a top priority in any
recruitment and retention strategy. "We must continue to work towards our goal
of 70 per cent of RNs working full-time by 2010 because there is ample
evidence that this aids in providing continuity of care, improves health
outcomes for patients and leads to greater job satisfaction among nurses,"
says Ferguson-Pare.

    The Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario (RNAO) is the professional
association representing registered nurses wherever they practise in Ontario.
Since 1925, RNAO has lobbied for healthy public policy, promoted excellence in
nursing practice, increased nurses' contribution to shaping the health-care
system, and influenced decisions that affect nurses and the public they serve.

For further information:

For further information: Marion Zych, Director of Communications,
Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario, (416) 599-1925, ext 209, (647)
406-5605 (cellular phone)

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