Ontario nurses’ wages need more support

Nurses continue to put their lives on the line in hospitals across the province of Ontario, but they are not being paid fairly for their work.

At a time when Canada needs more doctors and nurses to care for its rapidly aging population, Ontario is failing to pay its nurses and doctors fairly.

From an economic standpoint, it makes no sense. Today’s college graduates who are enrolled in healthcare programs are being trained to treat Canadians. However, they are being hired at wages far below what a Canadian teacher or police officer would earn in the same field. By investing this money into hospital staff salaries, the provincial government could also attract international nurses who are also in demand around the world.

Economically, providing a generous salary to Ontario nurses and doctors could lead to economic expansion and ultimately a sustainable future for all Ontarians. There are currently about 75,000 registered nurses and 6,000 physicians across the province, according to Statistics Canada. By comparison, there are approximately 70,000 primary school teachers and just 2,400 police officers. That should tell you everything you need to know about why Ontario should provide a livable wage to its employees.

Moving toward a solution

The Ontario Nurses Association is one of the unions involved in a proposed plan that would increase health care sector salaries in Ontario by 6%, with $300 million a year to be generated through various taxes on the health sector. The goal is to have the increase passed on to caregivers without driving up costs for Ontario taxpayers.

Ontario Health Minister Helena Jaczek said she would consider the proposal.

“It does sound like an interesting idea,” Jaczek said. “We’ll look into it, but in terms of the way we negotiate, we’re not bound by the schedule [set by the unions]. So, I mean, we’ll be looking at all the details.”

That agreement should not have a hard time passing muster with taxpayers, however. Provincial Finance Minister Charles Sousa, who was recently elected to be premier, recently proposed a $400-million trust fund to fund provincial government projects. That fund should be available to help out hospitals and doctors without cost increases being passed on to taxpayers.

The first to benefit from a better deal for nurses and doctors will be the kids of Ontario nurses and doctors. The more they know about the work that nurses and doctors do, the better their education will be and the more likely they will pursue careers in the field. With Canada about to become a country of seniors, it is crucial that they get a good education to make sure their children don’t follow their footsteps into an underpaid and unhealthy field.

Ontario is at a crossroads right now, and Ontario’s nurses and doctors need to know that there is a plan to help them properly reward them for their hard work and dedication.

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