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Ontario Needs 46,000 New Healthcare Workers, Unions Say

Photo Courtesy of CUPE/OCHU

TORONTO – Ontario is experiencing a healthcare crisis, something that healthcare workers have been sounding the alarm on for years, and we’re seeing the results right here in Toronto. Delayed procedures and extended ER wait times are just some of the fallout we’re seeing play out across the city as medical facilities continue to struggle with staffing shortages.

According to a union representing healthcare workers, the City of Toronto needs to hire an additional 15,000 healthcare workers this year alone to maintain current patient care and service levels in hospitals.

At a news conference, members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) called on the province to address the staff shortages fueling the healthcare crisis in Ontario. 

“Many (hospitals) have closed their ERs and ICUs and other services temporarily. This is not normal or acceptable,” said Dave Verch, the first vice-president of the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions/CUPE.

Verch says that currently, the turnover rate in Ontario is almost 15%, which he says represents an “unsustainable loss of experienced healthcare workers” and is more than double pre-pandemic levels. While ER wait times continue to grow with staffing shortages, unions are pointing fingers at the current provincial government. 

“Across Ontario, the wait time to be seen in emergency has consistently spiked since the Doug Ford PCs have been in government with a 47 percent increase in the last year alone. The provincial ER wait time average is now at 20.7 hours,” reads a release from CUPE and the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions.

Ontario-Wide Problem

The unions are calling on the province to hire 46,000 more hospital staff to address shortages across Ontario.

“To keep hospital emergency rooms and other units from closing and to decrease the time paramedics spend offloading patients at hospitals, overall, across Ontario, 46,000 more hospital staff must be hired just to deal with a 14.95 percent hospital staff turnover rate, the very high number of hospital job vacancies, the impacts of COVID and long COVID, and the increased needs of an aging and growing population,” reads a release.

Reaction from Everyday Ontarians and Advocates Alike

Across the province, many people are furious with the provincial government, yet not surprised. 

“Changes are needed immediately and the government is to blame for these shortages,” wrote one woman on Twitter. 

“I work in a specialist office, as a medical secretary, and even with 8 doctors, we are still experiencing a crisis. patients are having to wait up to 6 months or longer to see a specialist. it’s not right,” wrote another.

“3….that’s three more of my colleagues working in a ED tendered their resignations this week. We cannot keep up the stress levels indefinitely and honestly when I hear Monty talking about good jobs ( in trades) I want to scream or cry,” added a third. 

Ontario Officials Respond

The BG Show team reached out to the province to see what they had to say about the unions’ call to action and their plans for Ontario’s healthcare system.

“Our Plan to Stay Open: Health System Stability and Recovery ensures that Ontarians will continue to have access to the care they need when they need it. Our plan will support the healthcare system to address the urgent pressures of today while preparing for a potential fall and winter surge so our province and economy can stay open,” reads a statement from the office of Sylvia Jones, Deputy Premier of Ontario and provincial Minister of Health. 

“Once fully implemented, the next phase of the Plan to Stay Open will add up to 6,000 more health care workers, including nurses and personal support workers, to Ontario’s health workforce,” the statement continued, adding that it will also free up 2,500 hospital beds and provide better, more appropriate care to avoid unnecessary trips to the ER. 

“We’ve already added over 3,500 new critical care, acute and post-acute hospital beds and over 11,400 health care workers, including nurses and personal support workers, as well as over 900 internationally educated nurses have been deployed to hospitals across Ontario to gain the language and practice experience they need to become practicing nurses in Ontario,” the statement from Jones’ office continues,

Let us know in the comments, how do you feel about this announcement and how would you like to see the province rectify the situation?

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