Friday, May 17, 2013

The Ontario Nurses' Association is calling for a province-wide moratorium on the elimination of nursing positions, to take effect immediately.

Registered nurses at The Scarborough Hospital
are advocating for their patients by helping the community
send the message: cutting nurses is cutting health care.
(Photo Credit: Gregory Bennett) (CNW Group/Ontario Nurses' Association)

Last week, the Ontario government celebrated National Nursing Week
This week, it is allowing more Registered Nurse cuts

SCARBOROUGH, Ontario, May 17, 2013 /Canada NewsWire/ - New information about the latest cuts of Registered Nurses (RNs) at The Scarborough Hospital, coming less than a week after National Nursing Week celebrations concluded, is further evidence that the Ontario government is cutting health care.

Nurses are the professionals who provide most of the front-line care to patients in Ontario. Scientific research studies have demonstrated that there are fewer deaths and complications when more RNs are providing direct patient care.

"Cutting Registered Nurse jobs is cutting health care," said Andy Summers, RN, Regional Vice-President of the Ontario Nurses' Association (ONA) for the Greater Toronto Area. "Health care is consistently the number one concern of voters. If you are running a government that claims to be improving health care, there is no reasonable justification for allowing RN jobs to be cut."

Ontario has the second-lowest RN-to-population ratio in the country: 668 RNs per 100,000 residents, compared to an average of 785 RNs to 100,000 residents in other Canadian provinces and territories. In order to catch up to the rest of Canada, 15,646 more RNs would need to be employed throughout Ontario. Instead of fixing the problem by employing more registered nurses, the Ontario health system employed 844 fewer RNs in 2012 than it did in 2011.

"Cutting health care by cutting the number of RNs available to provide care is not only happening in Scarborough. Front-line health care cuts are happening across the province because, in real dollars, hospital funding is being cut by the provincial government," said Summers.

The poor standing of Ontario in terms of RNs employed in the health system to serve the population is not new, but it is a well known problem that the currently-governing party promised to fix when it took office 2003.

Last week, ONA released new research that shows understaffing is causing more work-related injuries and illness, and RNs are the most injured workers in Ontario—facing more dangerous workplace conditions than even several groups of construction and manufacturing workers.

"Those of us who are the RNs left behind after the endless rounds of cuts are having trouble coping with the workload," said Susan Brickell, RN, ONA Bargaining Unit President for The Scarborough Hospital. "We want to provide health care that is second-to-none for our patients, but we can't do that when there aren't enough of us to do the work to the high standard that our profession demands."

"Do you want your family to get the best quality health care possible, or the cheapest health care?" asked Brickell. "By allowing more Registered Nurse positions to be eliminated, the government is answering this question for you and their choice doesn't even save money when the full costs—of preventable infections and re-admissions of patients, and work-related injuries and illnesses of nurses—are considered."

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.