Ontario’s plan to hire 225 additional nurses in long-term care not enough, says ONA

Ontario has pledged $57.6 million over the next three years to recruit and retain up to 225 additional nurse practitioners in the long-term care sector through the new Hiring More Nurse Practitioners (HMNP) for Long-Term Care program. However a union representing nurses and health care professionals says this won’t cover the need.

“Recruiting and retaining more nurse practitioners will not only improve health outcomes for our residents but also provide opportunities for growth and learning for staff within long-term care homes,” said Long-Term Care Minister Paul Calandra.

Nurse practitioners are registered nurses who have an advanced university education and who may work in the long-term care sector as part of a health care team that develops, implements, and evaluates residents’ care plans. They also provide leadership and mentorship to other staff, enhancing their knowledge and ability to care for residents.

As part of the newly announced government program, long-term care homes can request funding for eligible employment expenses – including salary, benefits, and overhead costs – for newly hired nurse practitioners. The funding also provides up to $5,000 in relocation support for nurse practitioners who are hired to work full-time in rural communities and who have agreed to provide a minimum of 12 months of service.

Ontario Nurses’ Association President Cathryn Hoy says the announcement by the province reiterating a commitment made a year ago to fund up to 225 additional Nurse Practitioners to work in provincial long-term care homes – while a start – will take three years to implement and is far too few to meet the needs of Ontario’s 627 long-term care homes.

The Ontario Nurses’ Association recommendation to Ontario’s Long-Term Care COVID-19 Commission states there should be at least one NP who is an employee of the home for every 120 residents, given the present acuity of Ontario residents.

The HMNP initiative was announced as part of the Fall Economic Statement in 2021 and also highlighted in the government’s Plan to Stay Open: Health System Stability & Recovery, released on August 18, 2022. 

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