TORONTO, March 24, 2021 /CNW/ – The provincial budget has fallen short in providing hope and the short-term relief that Ontario nurses dearly needed to see, says the Ontario Nurses’ Association (ONA).
ONA President Vicki McKenna, RN, says that, “While it’s positive that our hospitals will receive a 3.4-percent funding increase, this falls short of what is needed for the system to catch up on the backlog of surgeries when the pandemic ends. The budget does not overcome the cuts to public health that this government made just months before the worst public health crisis in a century, nor does it commit to fast-track RN staffing levels in long-term care facilities or improving the quality and frequency of inspections of these homes.”
In addition, while there is $1.4 billion for personal protective equipment to protect front-line workers, the budget fails to recognize the appropriate precautions for airborne transmission of COVID-19.
Furthermore, McKenna notes that, “Every Ontarian needs and deserves paid sick leave, which would ensure that those who cannot work from home can stay home when ill. We know that Ontario needs to stabilize nurse staffing in our health-care facilities, and the budget is silent on specific measures to do that. And despite receiving federal funds for COVID-19 relief, the government continues to spread that contingency funding over multiple years, when it could be used now to cover the immediate costs of rebuilding capacity in our health-care system.
“There is very little in this budget that provides the immediate relief that our dedicated registered nurses and health-care professionals need,” she says. “ONA would like to see more funding going to not-for-profit health care, rather than to for-profit facilities that have proved to be so troubled during COVID-19. Announced funding for more nurses for retirement homes does not address long-term care RN staffing.
“If ever there was a lesson to be learned from COVID-19, it is that starving our health-care system and public health units of funding and staff has real consequences,” she says. “Ontarians, our nurses and front-line health-care professionals have paid dearly for this during the pandemic. Our home care system has suffered and could have been used to shore up services for seniors. We should have learned the lessons of the past, from SARS, yet there is nothing about implementing the precautionary principle to keep staff or patients, residents and clients safe. There is nothing about hiring more registered nurses to close the gap between Ontario and RN staffing levels compared to the rest of the country. For a budget focused on the health of people, the budget is short on details about caring for nurses who care for Ontarians.”
ONA is the union representing more than 68,000 registered nurses and health-care professionals, as well as 18,000 nursing student affiliates, providing care in hospitals, long-term care facilities, public health, the community, clinics and industry.
SOURCE Ontario Nurses’ Association