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McGuinty Government Takes On Nursing Shortage To Improve Patient Care

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McGuinty Government Takes On Nursing Shortage To Improve Patient Care

Office of the Premier

The McGuinty government is investing $50 million in Ontario hospitals to improve patient care by creating more full-time nursing positions and enhancing working conditions for nurses.

Nurses: A Precious Resource

The 83,000 registered nurses working in Ontario are at the heart of our health care system. But the foundations of the nursing profession have been chipped away in recent years.

  • Only 55 per cent of registered nurses in Ontario hospitals have full-time jobs.
  • Nurses put in 2.7 million hours of overtime in Ontario hospitals in 2002-2003.
  • Hospitals purchased two million hours of services from nursing agencies in 2002-2003, sometimes at more than double the cost of employee nurses.
  • Nurses are at a high risk of workplace illness or injury. In 2002 alone, nurses filed nearly 1,500 Workplace Safety and Insurance Board claims.

Attracting and Keeping Nurses

Half of the $50 million in new funding will help hospitals create more full-time nursing positions. The goal is to have 70 per cent of registered nurses in Ontario with full-time jobs. This funding will help hospitals reach that goal.

This investment will be used to hire new full-time nurses and convert casual and part-time nurses into full-time staff. Additional nurses will be hired using savings in overtime and agency costs.

By offering more full-time, stable jobs, hospitals will be in a better position to recruit and retain more nurses to give Ontario patients the bedside care they need and deserve.

Improving Working Conditions

The other half of this new investment will go towards enhancing the work environment for all nurses in hospitals. This funding will be used for:

  • Equipment and supplies to improve the safety of nurses and patients.
  • Educational and professional development opportunities for nurses.
  • Nursing support roles such as nursing educators and nursing managers.

This commitment is in addition to the $14 million the government earmarked in early February for modern hospital equipment -- such as patient lifts, electric beds and safety alarms -- to improve patient care and nurses' working conditions.

A New Era of Accountability

The $50 million investment in nursing is part of the $385 million in additional funding the government announced on February 24 to put hospitals on a sustainable footing. The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care will work with hospitals to make sure this new funding leads to real, positive change. The extra funds will flow only to hospitals that commit to and adhere to clear accountability requirements.

Hospitals will submit detailed plans for increasing the number of full-time nursing positions and improving nurses' working conditions. The plans will include measurable targets, such as the number of new full-time positions created and the number of hours per patient day provided by full-time nurses. Funding will be tied to results -- hospitals must reach their targets or face losing the funding.

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