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Tackling province's nursing crisis should be top priority for Ontario's next leader: RNAO

According to the Registered Nurses Association of Ontario, Ontario has 26,000 internationally educated nurses that are ready to work, but are still waiting for the government to allow them to practice.
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“Whoever is the next leader will need to tackle the nursing crisis because otherwise surgeries will not get done and other things will continue to be on the back burner.”

That’s what Doris Grinspun, CEO of the Registered Nurses Association of Ontario (RNAO), told The Rob Snow Show on Wednesday, May 4 about what she thinks is one of the most important issues that need to be tackled this upcoming provincial election.

However, it’s not only nursing that needs attention, but four other areas of Ontario’s medical sector that also urgently need improvements, the RNAO says.

Among them are healthcare (in general), environmental issues, social determinant of health like minimum wage and housing, and how the province will pay in order for this progress to happen.

“We desperately need Bill 124 to end, and there’s still a year to go,” she said. “We need it to end now so we can retain people in the workplace.”

(Bill 124 caps salary increases for public sector employees, including nurses, social workers, children's aid workers and teachers, at one per cent per year.)

“Then, we need to do things to bring more people into the profession,” Grinspun continued. “The good news is…that there is an increase in applications to the baccalaureate program of 35 per cent — so that’s also news for Ontarians, that people want to join this profession, and the current government already increased by a good 10 per cent and it least needs to continue for at least eight years because if not, we don’t ‘have enough.”

Grinspun adds that Ontario also needs to expedite multiple pathways for RPNs to be BScNs and then nurse practitioners.

According to the CEO, the province has 26,000 internationally educated nurses at its fingertips, ready to work. Yet, Ontario has only processed somewhere between 1,000 and 2,500 RNs and RPNs.

“The government already announced — which is good — that Canadian experience is out of the window, which is good because these people come with lots of experience,” Grinspun explained. “We want the next government to say, ‘You have a year to the regulatory body, not just to the nursing but to all of the others,’ so fix the problem because we have people living in Ontario and we need them to work here and not to move to the U.S.”

- With files from CityNews’ Alex Black

Listen to the full interview with Doris Grinspun on The Rob Snow Show on Wednesday, May 4, 2022. 

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