Last Updated on January 24, 2019
The Ontario Nurses’ Association says that the province is facing a “chaotic” shortage in nursing if drastic changes are not made.
Speaking on behalf of the association at a rally in Toronto last week, ONA first vice-president Vicky McKenna warned that Ontario is already lagging behind the other provinces, and would need 18,000 nurses immediately just to catch up. Ontario, one of Canada’s most populous provinces, has one of the lowest nurse-to-population ratios in the country.
“The reality is that we are an aging workforce,” said McKenna, pointing out that nurses in the province are, on average, 49 years old. “These nurses are going to retire and we are not graduating enough new nurses into the system.”
The nurses that are graduating, however, are facing their own discouraging challenges, says McKenna. With recent budget cuts, full-time nursing positions are getting harder and harder to find, making some wonder if a nursing career is really worth it.
“Everyone that has seniority over you gets it [full-time work] first,” said recent nursing graduate Teirsa St-Jean. “I don’t worry, because I am 22 and I don’t have children, but if I did have kids, it might be a problem.”
The lack of full-time positions not only discourages new graduates, but also places additional burdens on hospitals and staff. Overworked nurses can lead to fatigue, sickness, and can even put patients in danger, according to a recent study in The Lancet.
For each 1,000 residents, Ontario has seven nurses, according to the ONA.
Source: Metro News