Ontario Registered Nursing Positions Falling

CIHI Report shows Ontario continues to lag behind national RN staffing levels

TORONTO, January 10, 2013 /Canada NewsWire/ - The new report from the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) shows that the vital ratio of registered nurses to population has stagnated across Canada for the past five years and is lower than those seen in the early 1990s. The Ontario Nurses' Association (ONA) believes this is as a result of RN cuts in provinces such as Ontario.

CIHI's report shows that while there has been an 8-per-cent increase in the total number of regulated nurses employed in Canada between 2007 and 2011, the ratio of RNs to population has remained unchanged because while some provinces have hired RNs, others - such as Ontario - have cut them.

In the past five years, the Ontario ratio has fallen in terms of direct-care RNs and is now third-lowest in the country. More current data from the College of Nurses of Ontario (CNO) explains this further: between 2011 and 2012, 844 RN positions were cut in this province.

"Ontario continues to lag behind almost every province in the country in RN to population ratio," says ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud, RN. "The RN to population ratio is key to safe patient care because historically, registered nurses are the professionals who are there on the front lines for patients 24/7. Ontario is falling behind in terms of the number of direct care RNs as well, relative to the rest of the country, as health care employers continue to cut RN jobs and look for short-term savings by hiring less-trained, lower-paid staff."

The average Canadian ratio is 785 RNs per 100,000 residents, but Ontario employs just 668 RNs per 100,000 population, (Source: CNO). To meet the Canadian average, the province would have to hire 15,646 more RNs.

"Ontario continues to see the total number of nursing positions fall, a dangerous and unnecessary situation for any Ontarian needing care today," said Haslam-Stroud. "Ontario data show that not only were 844 RN positions eliminated from the Ontario health system, but the number of Ontario RNs employed in non-nursing jobs has increased to just under 5 per cent, the highest level since 2008."

Current levels of health care funding continue to adversely impact Ontarians.

"Keeping RN levels this low simply puts our patients at risk, costs the system more and is a false economy," says Haslam-Stroud. "RN care reduces the rates of death and disease in patients. ONA is calling on the provincial government to commit to increasing the number of RNs working here to ensure the quality patient care Ontarians expect and deserve."

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