bill 124 ontario

Ontario nurses are furious with the government for chronic short-staffing

You'd assume governments would be going all-in on healthcare during times like these, but nurses in Ontario are livid, claiming that legislation from the Ford government is having disastrous effects on healthcare in the province.

The Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario (RNAO), front-line nurses, and other public healthcare workers are doing everything they can to pressure the government to repeal the controversial Bill 124.

The RNAO and allied groups say that the legislation — capping compensation at one per cent for nurses and other public sector workers — is driving an exodus of desperately-needed healthcare workers out of Ontario, attracted by provinces with lower living costs, among other financial incentives.

The main concern is that this pull to other provinces leaves Ontario's healthcare system critically understaffed.

"Ontario is already in the midst of a nursing crisis that is being worsened by Bill 124, disincentivizing nurses to stay in a profession they love. On top of that, nurses are also facing chronic understaffing made worse by a 22-month pandemic," says RNAO CEO Dr. Doris Grinspun.

"If this legislation is not repealed, nurses will continue to leave and health-care organizations will continue to face staffing challenges and longer wait times for already backlogged procedures and surgeries."

Despite tirelessly campaigning to get the bill repealed, the RNAO, activist group Nursewithsign416, and other nurses and public sector workers will be holding a rally on Sunday, Nov. 14 held at Nathan Phillips Square at noon, raising awareness and seeking an end to Bill 124.

"RNAO is joining this rally on Nov. 14 and welcomes all nurses, other health workers, educators, and the public to join in sounding the alarm so the government listens and repeals Bill 124," said Dr. Doris Grinspun.

"Nurses are leaving the bedside in droves and a large part is because Bill 124 – the final straw," says registered nurse Leah Waxman of Nursewithsign416, who helped organize the rally.

"On Nov. 14, we want to show our fellow nurses that silence is no longer an option. We have a right to a wage increase that is not below inflation and we have a right to tell the public what is happening in Ontario hospitals and other sectors: staffing challenges are so severe that Ontarians' health care is in danger if the current conditions continue."

RNAO president Morgan Hoffarth cites alarming Statistics Canada figures that show "registered nurse vacancies in Ontario have more than quadrupled over the last five years and there was a 56 per cent increase in vacancies over the first half of this year."

With a loud and prominent display on Sunday, nurses hope to put more eyes on an issue that has largely been overshadowed by headline-grabbing run-ins pitting anti-vaxxers against hospital workers.

Lead photo by

Jack Landau

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