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Nurses launch new campaign against job losses

BY JASON THOMPSON [email protected] Ontario?s nurses say they?ve had enough of the provincial government?s broken health-care promises.
BY JASON THOMPSON

Ontario?s nurses say they?ve had enough of the provincial government?s broken health-care promises. They?re launching a $2 million public affairs campaign to put some political pressure on Premier Dalton McGuinty, who promised to create 8,000 new nursing positions during his 2003 election campaign.

The Not Enough Nurses campaign begins Monday and will feature bus shelter advertisements, along with billboard promotions and television spots.

According to Linda Haslam-Stroud, president of the Ontario Nurses Association (ONA), the government has only created about 1,200 new positions halfway through their mandate. She said the provincial situation is so bad Ontario has the second lowest registered nurse-to-patient ratio per capita in
Canada.

?Well into its mandate, the McGuinty government is falling far behind in its target. Too few nurses, ongoing layoffs of hundreds of nurses and poor working conditions are burning out the profession and putting quality patient care in jeopardy,? she said.

In Sudbury, Haslam-Stroud said a number of registered nursing hours have been cut in several care units forcing some to work excessive overtime as well as coming in during their summer holidays because of shortages.

?Our nurses are in a situation where we are not able to provide the care our patients require,? Haslam-Stroud said.

She said since the government demands budget accountability from its hospitals, any nursing positions that hospitals eliminate because of financial constraints have to be approved by the government.

?The government is approving what we call hospital accountability agreements that are actually reducing the number of nursing positions,? said Haslam-Stroud. ?Even though they (the government) is saying, ?we?re going to create 8,000 new positions,? they?re approving the accountability agreements even though it reduces the number of nurses for our patients because it?s not in the budget.?

Haslam-Stroud wonders how the government can pledge 8,000 new nurses while slashing registered nursing positions across the province.
She hopes public support may yield some accountability from the province.

?We believe patient care is more important than balanced budgets.?

With the launch of the Not Enough Nurses campaign, the ONA has also created a website at www.stillnotenoughnurses.ca.

The website features information on the nursing shortage and other related issues.

It also provides visitors with a petition urging the government to act.

Provincially, the ONA represents 51,000 registered nurses and allied health professionals.




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