Nurses urge government to ensure new funds reach the bedside

The 4.6-percent increase in hospital funding announced by the provincial government this morning is good news for patients, but only if the government ensures that the funds filter down to patient care at the bedside and alleviate overcrowding and hallway nursing, says the Ontario Nurses’ Association (ONA).

ONA President Vicki McKenna, RN, said, “While I am encouraged to hear that hospitals are getting a much-needed boost to their budgets, we look forward to hearing the details, and working with the government to ensure the funds go where they are needed most – to patient care at the bedside. Our hospital patients suffer from complex health issues, and yet hospitals have cut RN positions by the thousands during the past seven years.”

Ontario, she notes, continues to have the lowest RN-to-population ratio in the country. A large body of research has shown that more RN care reduces patient morbidity and mortality rates.

“Our pre-budget submission called for a 5.3-percent increase in hospital funding, and a four-year funded plan to meet the demand for more registered nurses in order to solve the RN shortage in Ontario hospitals,” said McKenna. “In addition, ONA has urged the government to implement a moratorium on further RN cuts. We are keen to see in next week’s provincial budget how the province’s hospital funding formula impacts individual hospitals, and what the minimum percentage increase is for every hospital in Ontario.

“Front-line registered nurses and health-care professionals know that our hospitals are severely understaffed,” she says. “This funding is an opportunity to improve the quality of care our patients need and deserve.”

McKenna also acknowledged the announcement of a $2.1-billion investment in mental health funding over four years. Details of exactly where this funding will go are important, she said, to improve access to mental health care in the province.

ONA is the union representing 65,000 registered nurses and health-care professionals, as well as 16,000 nursing student affiliates, providing care in hospitals, long-term care facilities, public health, the community, clinics and industry.