Today WeRPN issued the following statement in response to the expansion of the PSW wage increase:
WeRPN is very disappointed that the Ontario government has extended the temporary wage increase for Personal Support Workers (PSWs) without providing additional supports for Registered Practical Nurses (RPN), who work alongside them. While we agree that PSWs should be paid more, the government must also recognize the vital contributions of RPNs with a similar wage increase.
Since early 2020, RPNs have been on the frontlines, fighting against the pandemic in the hardest hit sectors including long-term care and hospitals. Yet they continue to be undervalued for the essential care they provide. Over the past several years, with the expansion of education and responsibilities, the RPN role has continued to grow but wages have not kept pace. Though the RPN role is much more similar to their Registered Nurse (RN) colleagues, their compensation continues to be more closely aligned with PSWs and the temporary wage increase has closed that gap even further.
While well intentioned, policies like this that recognize one health care worker without acknowledging the contributions of their colleagues not only causes growing tension across the health system but also threatens our ability to retain nurses at a time when we need them most. WeRPN survey findings from early 2021 showed that 1 in 3 RPNs is currently considering leaving the profession. Without new measures to address critical staffing shortages and ensure these valuable nurses are paid fairly in accordance with the additional accountability they hold and the quality of care they provide, our health system is at serious risk of facing significant nursing shortages in the months and years ahead.
The government has often called Ontario's nurses "healthcare heroes" throughout this pandemic. We strongly urge them to take immediate steps to make sure RPNs receive the compensation they deserve.