Many Ontario Nurses Feel Underpaid and Under Attack

Harmful regulations, costly paperwork and longer work hours are forcing Ontario nurses out of the job. Nurses are frustrated enough with their job that the Ontario Nurses Association is calling the ongoing labour strife a battle between “marginalised” and “underpaid” nurses. Is this real?

According to government documents provided to Healthcare Post, nurses in Ontario make less money than other occupations. The highest paid province is Newfoundland, where the average salary is $88,838 per year. Unfortunately, less than one percent of this salary can be enjoyed by all of Ontario’s nurses. Nurse practitioners make up more than one percent of that total. Even so, nurses make less than nurses in Alberta, Nova Scotia, PEI, and a handful of other provinces.

Workload is not the main reason behind nurse shortages in Ontario. The average number of patients per nurse in Ontario is 21. In British Columbia, it’s 47. And this is even with the Ontario government increasing the number of patients per nurse.

These notables do not come close to Ottawa’s: 149, due in part to the Ontario Provincial Police’s notoriously high number of overtime hours.

But it’s not only about working full days and filling in on weekends. Nurses in Ontario also work a disproportionate amount of time during the night, for a slightly lesser salary. According to a 2017 report from Ontario’s Auditor General, 64.7 percent of the time worked during the night is made up of personal care duties. This is far more than anywhere else in Canada.

The Ontario government also made this into a campaign issue during this year’s election. In an article published by the Liberal Party of Ontario, the only provincial leader from any party not to object to the conflict of interest allegations made against her, Kathleen Wynne (who has also claimed that the B.C. nurses are overpaid) was offered to be the Ontario’s new Finance Minister in the event of a snap election. Well, the Ontario Nurses’ Association, a feminist organization that will not question the excesses of the provincial government, found her approach comforting, and offered to lend Wynne their $6,092 annual membership fee in exchange for “offering positive public comments about nurses to the media.”

The Ontario government did not resign. Nor has there been a formal apology issued. But given the punishing attacks that nurses are currently enduring, it will likely come as no surprise that they continue to feel underpaid and overworked.

Make no mistake: Nurses are not bad or evil people. They are overworked professionals, struggling to do more with less and considering quitting because of constant harassment and abuse from their employer. With the help of provincial and local politicians, the Ontario government will further alienate these dedicated professionals.

Liz Branson is an associate professor of history at Stanford University in California.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

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