Doug Ford should put his money where his mouth is and pay nurses more, health unions say

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It was a message from three unions as they urged Premier Doug Ford to provide better incentives for health care workers as staffing shortages forced more than 20 hospital emergency rooms and at least one intensive care unit to be temporarily closed this summer. has been forced to shut down.

“He needs to see something other than ‘you’re a hero’ from his office,” Sherlyn Stewart, president of SEIU Healthcare, told an online news conference on Friday.

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The Ontario Nurses Association, the Canadian Union of Public Employees and SEIU Healthcare unions proposed a number of steps the Ford government could take to address the crisis, including increased wages amid rising inflation, and the repeal of Bill 124, which is the most limited. Public sector salaries go up by one per cent annually from 2019 onwards.

Also on the list are: financial incentives, more full-time work and on-site child care, to discourage retirement and lure retirees or others left out during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Stewart said that by paying their nurses better, hospitals can save three or four times what it costs to hire filling nurses from staffing agencies.

CUPE’s Michael Hurley said about 10,000 health care workers have left the field over the years and are in dire need of going back to their jobs.

“Bill 124 goes to the heart of morale,” he said at the news conference. “It’s not an expression of their value.”

The recommendations follow a move by Health Minister Sylvia Jones on Thursday to ask regulatory bodies for nurses and doctors to expedite the accreditation of foreign trained RNs, registered practical nurses and MDs.

Stephen Warner said, “We know more work needs to be done to address any challenges on the ground and working with all partners including Ontario Health and 140 public hospital corporations, regulatory colleges and health sector associations continue.” Jones spokesperson.

The government has also added $12.4 million in mental health and addiction support for health care workers, hired 10,500 health care workers, helped 14,000 individual support worker students pay for their college training programs, Raised wages for aid workers, and are giving $5,000. Bonus to nurses working during the pandemic.

Katherine Hoy, president of the Ontario Nurses Association and a registered nurse, said nurses will prioritize fair pay increases that reflect their hard work and importance to the health care system.

“Nurses have been asked to work in back-to-back shifts, sometimes 24 hours a day. Some sleep in the hospital when needed. Others are called back with at least five hours between shifts. ,

Hurley said nurse bonuses were “a precarious approach to labor relations” because they signal to other health care workers that they are not appreciated.

In Queens Park, interim NDP leader Peter Tabens said the government should go back to the drawing board with Tuesday re-introducing its 28 April budget to tackle the health care crisis, and to repeal Bill 124 reiterated the call of his party.

“(It) is a pretty clear signal from a provincial government that ‘we’ll say all kinds of nice things about you, but in the end, we’re not willing to put dollars on the table to make life better for you.'”

With files from Robert Benzie
Rob Ferguson is a Toronto-based reporter who covers Ontario politics for the Star. Follow him on Twitter: @robferguson1

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