On Thursday morning, Ontario Health Minister Sylvia Jones’ unveiled the province’s plan to stabilize the health-care system by increasing the number of surgeries performed at private clinics which will be covered by OHIP.
The province will also cover the exam and registration fees for internationally trained nurses ,and send patients waiting for a long-term care bed to a home not of their choosing.
The plan comes as nursing staff shortages have seen emergency departments across the province close throughout the summer for hours or days at a time.
“It’s enraging to hear that the Minister of Health, who’s responsible for our public health-care system, thinks that she’s going to somehow magically create all these new staff in a staffing crisis by handing over more work and more profit-making ability to private for-profit surgical clinics,” said Peter Bergmanis, LHC co-chair.
“Where are these staff coming from? They’re suddenly not going to just appear because there’s surgeries being done in a for-profit clinic. We don’t have enough staff in the public ones.”
Bergmanis said giving more money to for-profit health care will not address shortages that were already an issue before the pandemic.
Jones said Ontario needs to be “bold, innovative and creative” when looking for ways to improve the health system.
“There are some who will fight for the status quo no matter what,” she said at a press conference announcing the plan.
The province will temporarily cover the exam, application and registration fees for internationally trained and retired nurses, saving them up to $1,500, and plans to invest up to $57.6 million over three years to increase the number of nurse practitioners working in long-term care homes.
Bergmanis supported the move to make it easier for internationally trained nurses to come to the province, but said it comes too little too late.
“You can’t do that overnight. We need tens of thousands of new staff. We need them like yesterday,” he said.
In response to the province’s announcement, the College of Nurses of Ontario (CNO) is getting ready to potentially register thousands of internationally trained nurses on a temporary basis, noting there are 5,970 active international applicants currently living in Ontario.
The college said it could make a regulation change – if the minister supports it – that would allow internationally trained nurses to be temporarily registered while they go through the full registration process, such as completing education and an exam.
– with files from Liam Casey and Allison Jones, The Canadian Press
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