Ontario Hospital Funding: Nurses Awarded Average and Paediatric Health Funding Boosted

Ontario Hospital Nurses Awarded Average Raises of 11% Over Two Years, Union Says


Courtesy of Barrie 360 and Canadian PressPublished: Jul 21st, 2023

Ontario hospital nurses will be getting raises of what their union says amounts to an average of 11 per cent over two years, with the arbitrator citing a staffing crisis and high inflation.

It’s the first contract since the nurses — and other broader public sector workers — were subject for three years to a wage restraint law known as Bill 124, which capped increases at one per cent a year.

Nurses and government critics have blamed Bill 124 for making it more difficult to recruit and retain nurses, particularly while they were on the front lines of fighting the COVID−19 pandemic.

“This decision is a first step to righting past wrongs, and bringing hospitals nurses’ compensation up to where it should be,” ONA President Erin Ariss wrote in a statement.

“ONA members have been organizing across the province to push for better wages to improve staffing and patient care. This time, we were heard.”

Talks between the Ontario Nurses’ Association and the Ontario Hospital Association failed to produce a deal, so an arbitrator had to decide the terms.

William Kaplan wrote in the arbitration award that there are more than 9,000 registered nurse vacancies in Ontario hospitals and compensation is one of the best ways to attract staff.

“The evidence presented establishes that there is truly a nursing recruitment and retention crisis in Ontario’s hospitals,” he wrote.

“ONA members are leaving their jobs because vacancies were not being filled, creating unmanageable workloads leading to burnout and exhaustion driving employees from the workplace.”

Kaplan’s award increases rates in the wage grid, and awards raises on top of those of 3.5 per cent this year and three per cent next year. The ONA says that equals roughly 11 per cent in the two years for the average nurse.

Kaplan also wrote that high inflation is starting to be taken into account in free, collective bargaining, which his decision attempts to replicate.

“The award takes inflation into account and is an acknowledgment of the incontrovertible evidence that for more than a decade inflation has greatly outpaced RN rates,” he wrote.

The decision also gives hospitals more flexibility in short−term reassignments for nurses, so it is not considered a layoff when they need to manage staff shortages, and it creates dedicated isolation pay for exposure to communicable diseases.

OHA President Anthony Dale said the improved wage grid will benefit new and early-career nurses in particular.

“It further recognizes the important role that experienced nurses play in patient care as well as their contributions in supporting these newer nurses through increased premiums for student supervision, mentorship, and team leadership,” he wrote in a statement.

An Ontario court found Bill 124 unconstitutional late last year, but the government appealed.

Even though that ruling is under appeal, the nurses were able to go back to the arbitrator to secure additional wages for 2020−2022 under the previous contract, since the contracts were subject to reopening if Bill 124 was repealed or declared invalid.

They were awarded additional wage increases of 0.75 per cent, one per cent, and two per cent for each of the three years, respectively.

Hospital workers such as dietary aides, personal support workers and registered practical nurses were also awarded additional back pay due to Bill 124 being found unconstitutional, as were ONA members working in the charitable homes sector, and paramedics at the Ornge air ambulance service.

Ontario Boosts Pediatric Health-Care Funding By $330M A Year


Courtesy of Barrie 360 and Canadian PressPublished: Jul 19th, 2023

By Allison Jones

Ontario is boosting pediatric health-care funding by $330 million a year, in part to ease system pressures that saw children’s hospitals strained last fall by a respiratory virus surge.

It will allow children’s hospitals to significantly increase staffing and provide more services, Premier Doug Ford said Wednesday.

“We know that when your child gets sick the last thing you want to deal with is a backlog list or a waitlist,” Ford said at an announcement at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario in Ottawa.

“You want care and you want it fast. That’s why this new investment will be targeted at high impact initiatives that can be implemented quickly to reduce wait lists for youth and connect more children to the care they need when they need it.”

The funding is set to go toward more than 100 initiatives, including increasing the number of day surgeries performed, increasing access to diagnostic imaging, and rapid access clinics that will help people avoid the ER during respiratory virus season.

As well, the government said the money will be used to reduce wait times for mental health services, including adding eight new youth wellness hubs, increasing access to psychosocial supports for children with cancer, and an immunization catch-up program.

It will also go toward reducing wait times for children’s rehabilitation services, such as occupational therapy, physiotherapy and speech and language services.

Earlier this year, there were about 12,000 children waiting for surgeries in Ontario, more than 90,000 waiting for community- and school-based development and rehabilitation care, and about 28,000 children waiting for community-based mental health treatment.

Alex Munter, the CEO of the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario, said the funding represents the biggest expansion of pediatric health care in the province’s history and will help in both the short and long term.

“Investing in kids today means happier, healthier citizens, taxpayers, innovators, parents, (and) community members tomorrow,” he said.

“Two of every $3 in the health-care system is spent on chronic disease management and when we can put kids on the path to lifelong health … we prevent or delay the onset of chronic disease, we reduce the need for health-care services later.”

Patricia Dent

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