Ontario Making Historic Investment in Provincial Nursing Workforce
BELLEVILLE ― The Ontario government is investing $763 million to provide Ontario’s nurses with a lump sum retention incentive of up to $5,000 per person. This payment will help to retain nurses across the health sector and stabilize the current nursing workforce during this critical time to ensure patients continue to access the health care they need and deserve.
“Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic nurses have stayed on the front lines with remarkable dedication and selflessness as they care for our sick and most vulnerable Ontarians, and we know that a strong nursing workforce is crucial to supporting the province’s recovery in the months and years ahead,” said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. “As we continue to build up our nursing workforce, this investment will support the nurses we currently have so that Ontarians continue to have access to the care they need during the COVID-19 pandemic and into the future.”
Through the temporary retention payment for nurses, the government will provide a lump sum payment of up to $5,000 for eligible full-time nurses and a prorated payment of up to $5,000 for eligible part-time and casual nursing staff across the province. The payment will be paid by employers in two installments.
Nurses eligible to receive the payment include nurses in hospitals, long-term care and retirement homes, home and community care, primary care, mental health and addictions, emergency services, and corrections, as well as range of other community based and developmental services including youth justice. Nurses in a management or supervisory role who were redeployed to a direct patient care role will qualify.
Retaining and hiring more nurses is one more way Ontario is creating a stronger health care workforce. Since March 2020, the government has launched emergency programs that have already added over 8,450 health care professionals to the system, including hospitals, long-term care homes and home and community care settings. These programs will also provide hospitals with the capacity to add another 4,000 additional providers to high-need hospitals to support staffing pressures due to COVID-19 by March 31, 2022, including the deployment of nursing students and other health care providers-in-training.
These initiatives build on the government’s commitment as part of the 2021 Ontario Economic Outlook and Fiscal Review: Build Ontario to invest $342 million over the next five years through immediate and longer-term recruitment initiatives which would add over 13,000 workers to Ontario’s health care system. This includes over 5,000 new and upskilled registered nurses and registered practical nurses as well as 8,000 personal support workers.
- To receive the first payment, nurses must be employed as of March 31 and to receive the second payment nurses must be employed on September 1.
- In 2021-22, the province invested $35 million to add up to 2,000 additional nursing students at publicly-assisted colleges and universities across the province, for the Fall 2021 and Winter 2022 incoming cohorts.
- The province is also collaborating with Ontario Health and the College of Nurses of Ontario (CNO) on initiatives to deploy internationally educated nurses to hospitals and other health care settings to work under the supervision of a regulated health care provider, such as a registered nurse or doctor. More than 1,200 internationally educated CNO applicants have expressed interest in participating in these initiatives so far.
- In its continued support of nurses and their practice, the government recently approved scope of practice expansions for nurse practitioners, which will allow them order CT scans and MRI tests for their patients and to perform a broad range of point-of-care tests, making it easier and more convenient for patients to access the timely care they need.
“Nurses give residents the care they need everyday and the need for more nurses in the long-term care sector has never been greater. This payment will help stabilize and retain nurses in long-term care, and support our government’s Canada-leading commitment to ensure residents receive, on average, four hours of direct care per day.”
– Paul Calandra
Minister of Long-Term Care
“Our government is making this historic incentive payment to help retain the hardworking nurses who help protect the health and wellbeing of retirement home residents across Ontario every day. We are thankful for their dedication and incredible service, especially during the pandemic.”
– Raymond Cho
Minister for Seniors and Accessibility
“Nurses have been on the frontlines of this global pandemic, and have continued to provide important care to our loved ones with compassion and professionalism. This retention payment is an important part of our work to build nursing capacity across Ontario.”
– Dr. Merrilee Fullerton
Minister of Children, Community and Social Services
“Nurses protect public health each and every day, and an investment in them is an investment in a stronger Ontario. Our nursing workforce care for Ontarians not only in hospitals, but also in congregate care and correctional facilities and this payment will ensure patients continue to receive the care they need.”
– Sylvia Jones
“The COVID-19 pandemic has been incredibly challenging for home care nurses and for all nurses from every sector. I would sincerely like to thank every nurse and health care provider for their dedication, commitment, professionalism, and all the personal sacrifices they make every day to care for others, especially during these past two years. This investment in nurses by the Ontario government is a welcome recognition of the outstanding knowledge, skills and professionalism of nurses and it will help ensure the continuity of safe, high-quality care for patients in their homes and communities across Canada.”
– Maureen Charlebois
Chief Nursing & Clinical Officer, Bayshore HealthCare
“The Nurse Practitioners’ Association of Ontario is grateful to the Ministry of Health and the Government of Ontario for recognizing the valiant contributions nurses have made and continue to make to delivering healthcare in Ontario. We have long stated that nurses are the heartbeat of healthcare. Words cannot adequately express the incredible efforts we have seen from our nurses. Never before have the nursing ranks been pushed to these limits and it is being reflected in the number that are leaving the workforce. Experienced nurses will be a critical component to help healthcare in Ontario to recover from this pandemic, and we can only hope that this retention payment will convince them to continue to provide the exceptional care Ontarians need.”
– Dana Cooper
Executive Director, Nurse Practitioners’ Association of Ontario
“Home Care Ontario applauds the government for today’s significant investment to provide front-line nurses with temporary retention payments. Nurses are one of the many front-line home care heroes who have continued to help keep people safe through-out the COVID-19 pandemic, and these bonuses are very well deserved.”
– Sue VanderBent
CEO, Home Care Ontario
“RNAO welcomes the temporary retention payment as recognition to the selfless giving and exhaustion nurses have experienced during this long and intense pandemic. Nursing is central to the health of Ontarians and our health system. Partnering with government and employers, RNAO will do all we can to ensure robust nurse retention and recruitment so that workloads decrease and Ontarians have timely access to safe and quality nursing care, in all settings and sectors.”
– Dr. Doris Grinspun