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May 9, 2016

Ontario Nurses' Association, NDP Call for Moratorium on RN Cuts

Ontario has second-worst RN-to-population ratio in Canada

TORONTO, May 9, 2016 – The Ontario Nurses’ Association (ONA) and the provincial NDP called on the government to implement an immediate moratorium on cuts to registered nurse (RN) positions today.

At a joint media conference at Queen’s Park this morning, ONA First Vice-President Vicki McKenna, RN joined NDP Leader Andrea Horwath in announcing that Ontario hospitals have cut 1,440 RN positions, or the equivalent of three RN positions per day since the beginning of 2015.

“To put the total number of RN cuts in perspective, that’s 90 RNs per month gone from front-line patient care and a loss to our patients of 2.8 million hours of RN care in just 17 months,” said McKenna.

“The repercussion of such deep RN cuts are serious,” she said. “Evidence from multiple studies show that for every extra patient added to an average RN’s workload, the patient’s risk of suffering complications and even death increases by seven per cent. Patients occupying Ontario hospital beds today suffer from multiple, complex illnesses, and require the skills and education of RNs. Yet years of hospital funding freezes have resulted in the loss of RNs just as patients need their care the most.”

McKenna points out that increasing RN staffing saves the health-care system money by lowering the rates of expensive hospital readmissions. “The value of adequate RN staffing cannot be overstated,” she said. “One study found the savings associated with the prevention of patient complications by critical care RNs was up to 10 times the cost of staffing the RNs.”

In Canada, only British Columbia has a lower RN-to-population ratio.

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, the community, public health, clinics and industry.

For further information: Ontario Nurses’ Association: Sheree Bond, (416) 964-8833, ext. 2430; cell: (416) 986-8240;; Melanie Levenson, (416) 964-8833, ext. 2369;