Ontario ERs Facing Closure Due To Longstanding Nursing Issues-  Brock Expert

Ontario ERs Facing Closure Due To Longstanding Nursing Issues-  Brock Expert

‘The entire system needs to be reformed’. …”Even if we increase the workforce, there still needs to be amenable work conditions as an incentive for RNs to stay in Ontario.”                                          – Connie Schumacher, Assistant Professor of Nursing at Brock University

Connie Schumacher, Assistant Professor of Nursing at Brock University.

A News Release from Brock University in St. Catharines, Ontario

Posted July 28th, 2022 on Niagara At Large

Niagara, Ontario – Situation critical. Recent news that many Ontario emergency departments (ERs) are on the brink of closing due to nursing shortages is dire but not surprising to Connie Schumacher.

“The ER is usually the first to signal a warning, and ER overcrowding has been an issue that has not been adequately addressed in decades,” says the Assistant Professor of Nursing at Brock University.

Schumacher says merely hiring more nurses is a short-term solution to underlying, long-festering problems in Ontario’s health-care system that need to be fixed.

These include:

  *   Bill 124, legislation passed in 2019 that limits wage increases to a maximum of one per cent total compensation for three years for registered nurses (RN), nurse practitioners and health-care professionals. “Bill 124 is a contentious issue that has contributed to the moral distress and undervalued climate that now exists within the current nursing workforce,” Schumacher says.

  *   A chronic shortage of hospital beds.

  *   The loosening of public health measures, such as dropping the mask mandate, “that has allowed for unchecked transmission of an airborne pathogen,” she says.

  *   And the lowest RN-to population ratio<https://rnao.ca/fr/news/media-releases/2018/06/14/ontario-has-worst-rn-population-ratio-canada-province-must-hire-more-#:~:text=Figures%20released%20today%20by%20the,across%20the%20rest%20of%20Canada.> in Canada, which “has most likely contributed to the current shortage,” she adds.

“My point is nurses are burnt out and leaving the workforce. There’s a narrative of ‘increase the workforce’ without addressing the underlying issues that pre-existed the pandemic,” she says.

Schumacher, who is an RN, worked in the ER of Hamilton’s Juravinski/Henderson Hospital from 1998 to 2010.

“At that time, the ER was constantly in a flux of overcapacity with no access to beds, sometimes having more than 20 admitted patients in the emergency department waiting for beds,” she says. “Beds and nurses are uniquely tied — you cannot increase beds without increasing the complement of staff that would care for the patient occupying the bed.”

The entire system needs to be reformed, Schumacher says. “Even if we increase the workforce, there still needs to be amenable work conditions as an incentive for RNs to stay in Ontario.”

Schumacher notes that Brock University has expanded its Nursing program<https://brocku.ca/brock-news/2022/05/brock-nursing-experiencing-unprecedented-growth/> to meet the challenges<https://brocku.ca/brock-news/2022/05/brock-prepares-future-nurses-for-challenges-in-the-field/> in the field. She says two years ago, Brock enrolled 80 first-year Nursing students.

“Come this September, we are projected to exceed an intake of 225 Nursing students in first year,” she says, adding that 94 Nursing students graduated this year.”

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“A Politician Thinks Of The Next Election. A Leader Thinks Of The Next Generation.” – Bernie Sanders




3 responses to “Ontario ERs Facing Closure Due To Longstanding Nursing Issues-  Brock Expert

  1. When the Niagara Health System first started, there were only a couple of people on the Sunshine List. Now there’s well over 100, mostly administrative. Before the amalgamation, Douglas Hospital in Fort Erie was the only hospital in the region that was in the black; all others were in the red.


  2. Linda McKellar

    1% to nurses is a slap in their faces, faces scarred by wearing tight fitting masks for 3 + years. What did casino workers get? How much do athletes make? How about CEO’s?
    People have no clue about the complexity of a nursing career, the ongoing education, the abuse, the long hours, shift work. GM gets better benefits with very minimal education. Nurses even have to pay for parking to go to work. Try that at GM.
    A Note from Niagara At Large – Linda McKellar is a retired nurse.


  3. Danielle Angevine

    Why do we hear the same message over and over again? Because those who should be hearing are not listening. It doesn’t matter if we are talking about the ER or long-term care or the community. Nurses don’t often ask for more pay (Bill 124 aside, an entirely other issue); they ask for more staff. Nurses have left their jobs, not because they don’t like nursing, but because they don’t have the time and support to do the job properly. I am not a PC supporter but the blame cannot all be laid at Ford’s feet. I started nursing in 1967 so I have experienced underfunding from all three major political parties. Change is necessary and needs to start by asking the nurses on the frontline. And the ones who have left.


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