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WeRPN welcomes commitments to recruit and retain nurses in long-term care and retirement homes but disappointed by limited direct support for RPNs in 2021 Budget

by WeRPN

Toronto, March 24, 2021 – Today, the Ontario government released its annual Budget, Ontario’s Action Plan: Protecting People’s Health and Our Economy that further builds on the commitments outlined by its COVID-19 Action Plan to Protect, Support and Recover.

The Registered Practical Nurses Association of Ontario (WeRPN) is pleased to see government’s commitment to recruitment and retention of nurses in key sectors like long-term care and retirement homes to address immediate impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and longstanding staffing issues. In addition, we applaud the additional investment to grow the number of infection prevention and control professionals available to support resident and staff safety. WeRPN has long advocated for vital investments in seniors’ congregate settings and we are pleased to see movement in this direction.

Ontario’s long-term care systems were in crisis before the pandemic – a situation which has only been further exacerbated by COVID-19. We welcome all efforts to improve these systems and, most importantly, to ensure that all of Ontario’s long-term care residents get the high-quality care that they need and deserve. But government needs to do much more, much faster, and beyond just long-term care – and Registered Practical Nurses (RPNs) must be central to these plans.

WeRPN is disappointed that no specific investments have been included to support the work of Ontario’s RPNs, remove barriers and enable them to deliver the best, safe, quality care possible.  RPNs are dedicated frontline health care professionals working across health care settings and sectors, including hospitals, long-term care, and home and community care.

“Like their colleagues in frontline health care, the pandemic has taken a tremendous toll on RPNs both personally and professionally,” said WeRPN CEO Dianne Martin. “RPNs have made immense personal sacrifices in order to continue to do their job and provide vital care to those who need it. It’s time that they be fully recognized and supported for these efforts and the invaluable contributions they have made to Ontario patients, residents, and clients.”

As part of the government’s Staffing Supply Accelerator Group, WeRPN looks forward to championing the priorities of Ontario’s RPNs. In particular, WeRPN is advocating for:

  • Fair compensation for RPNs, and all their colleagues delivering frontline care, for the vital work and care they provide.
  • Closing the sector wage gap to ensure nurses are paid fairly and comparably, no matter where they provide care.
  • Implementing robust, long-term solutions to ensure all frontline health care providers, including RPNs, receive the mental health support that they need to cope with and even overcome the unthinkable emotional, psychological and moral injury they’ve experienced as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Implementing a robust health human resource strategy to ensure that we have enough and the right complement of care providers that allow nurses to provide the level and quality of care that Ontarians deserve.

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