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NDP proposes a hiring and retention plan for health workers

The NDP plan will give current and future health care workers in Ontario pay raises, workplace respect, and incentives equal to or better than what other provinces are offering
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Ontario's official opposition New Democrats have put forward a plan designed to deal with the crisis of the shortage of health care workers in the province.

The NDP will ask the legislature to approve a hiring and retention plan that will give current and future health care workers in Ontario pay raises, workplace respect, and incentives equal to or better than what other provinces are offering, said a news release from the NDP.

“Our health care system is already on its knees, and our remaining health care workers are run off their feet, they’re feeling disrespected, and more are leaving every week,” said NDP interim leader Peter Tabuns.

Tabuns was joined by NDP Health Care critic and Nickel Belt MPP France Gélinas and Ontario Nurses’ Association (ONA) President Cathryn Hoy, RN, who all spoke out together on Thursday about the need for this motion to pass with government approval in the legislature.

Hoy told the news conference that anyone in government who denies there is a health human resources crisis is insulting all front-line nurses and health care professionals.

“It’s time for this government to listen to nurses and move urgently to restore our health workforce. There is no excuse for not taking every action possible to recruit and retain nurses and end this crisis so every person in Ontario can access our public health care system when they need it,” said Hoy.

The NDP news release said Ontario has the lowest nurse-per-capita ratio in Canada at 665 registered nurses for every 100,000 people. Ontario also has the lowest number of hospital beds per capita throughout all OECD countries.

Health critic Gélinas said the situation in Ontario has never been more dire, as people are finding locked emergency rooms in some communities and people lying on the floor of other emergency rooms because there is no other place to wait. Gélinas said the situation is scary.

“We have to turn this around with raises, respect, and incentives for current and future health care workers. Instead of waving goodbye to these workers as they leave for other provinces, or for the private sector, let’s support them by showing them respect and appreciation.”

The New Democrats said they will attempt to have the motion passed in the legislature immediately as an emergency motion, which requires unanimous consent. Failing that, the NDP will force a final vote on the motion on the first Opposition Day.