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WeRPN welcomes the commitments to recruiting new nurses, but is concerned by limited direct support for RPNs in the 2023 Budget

by WeRPN

WeRPN is concerned by the lack of strong action to tackle Ontario’s nursing crisis in the 2023 Budget. Prior to the pandemic, Registered Practical Nurses (RPNs) were sounding the alarm about the growing strains on nurses and our healthcare system. The past few years have continued to place growing pressure on RPNs, with many now reaching a breaking point and 47 per cent considering leaving the profession. For too long, we have taken the contributions of RPNs for granted.

“Ontario’s RPNs are exhausted, demoralized, and reaching a breaking point. They continue to be asked to do more, while their wages remain stagnant and enough is enough. Without more action, we are at serious risk of losing thousands of nurses at a time we desperately need them,” says Dianne Martin, CEO of WeRPN. “Now is the time to make meaningful investments to show nurses they are valued and enable them to deliver the best possible patient care but unfortunately this budget fell short.”

WeRPN had put forward five key recommendations to help retain our province’s exceptional nurses and recruit more nurses to meet the growing needs of Ontarians.

We ask the government to seriously consider our five recommendations:

  1. Establish competitive + harmonized nursing wages to incentivize retention.
  2. Legislate nurse-to-patient ratios to enhance patient safety.
  3. Renew investment in the Nursing Education Initiative (NEI).
  4. Expand the Bridging Education Grants in Nursing (BEGIN) to acute care settings.
  5. Reduce overreliance on for-profit nursing agencies to save money.

While WeRPN was pleased to see a commitment to nursing recruitment by growing spaces in nursing programs and enhancing investments in the Enhanced External and Supervised Practice Experience Program, we are disappointed by the lack of movement on its recommendations.

“If we don’t connect the dots between the experiences of RPNs and the impacts on the lives of Ontarians, the consequences could be catastrophic. Recruitment alone is not enough to stop mass exodus of nurses. Our call to action is to retain the incredible nurses we already have with competitive compensation, appropriate nurse-to-patient ratios, and more access to specialized education” says Martin.

Going forward, WeRPN will continue to work with government and call for further investment to support the retention of Ontario RPNs.

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