Statement from Andrea Horwath on Nursing week

It is my honour to rise today to recognize Nursing Week and to recognize the incredible work that Ontario’s nurses do for the people of Ontario.

Nurses are the backbone of Ontario’s health care system. 

They support patients every step of the way as they move through our health care system.

From the moment they enter care, to the time that they are discharged, and then onward through their recovery.

Nurses continue to be one of Ontario’s most respected and trusted professions.

This is because Ontario’s nurses are professionals who perform their duties with the highest standards of excellence.

They do this challenging work because they care about the health of Ontarians.

For this all Ontarians are immensely grateful.

While I was at Health Sciences North in Sudbury for nursing week in 2012, I was proud to be made an honourary nurse.

But the real nurses in Sudbury are facing what they are calling a “dire situation” due to Liberal budget cuts.

And this is the situation across our province.

We should be honouring our nurses by providing them with the resources they need to do their jobs.

Instead, we have the longest unbroken period of real-dollar public hospital cuts in Ontario’s history.

Instead, we see nurses on the picket line in Welland or being fired like in Peterborough.

Research clearly shows that more hours of Registered Nurse care lead to more lives saved and fewer complications for patients.

But, in 2015, the Ontario Nurses Association has seen more than 400 positions cut.

This is the equivalent of close to 800,000 hours of quality RN care. 

Just today ONA reported that more than 50 registered nursing positions are being cut from the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario in Ottawa. 

And ONA knows that another consecutive year of funding freezes means that even more registered nurses will be cut, which will “leav[e] hospital patients in Ontario at an increased risk of complications and even death.”

According to the Registered Professional Nurses Association of Ontario health care is “approaching a crisis situation… and nurses are telling us that much more needs to be done in order to provide patients with the care they truly need.”

Hospital wards are overcrowded, long term care homes are under-resourced and home care is under-funded.

And nurses in Ontario are suffering.

They are suffering from increased workloads, stress burnout and, according to the RPNAO, the “moral distress associated with watching in frustration as their patients fail to get the level and quality of care they deserve.”

We don’t honour our nurses by making it harder to do their jobs.

We don’t honour our nurses by firing RNs and reducing care hours.

We don’t honour our nurses by privatizing their positions and denying fair compensation.

We owe our nurses more than empty words.

Nurses support patients, clients, residents and families in our communities every day.

Our nurses are there for people in the both the best and worst of times.

In return, we have a duty to support our nurses.

New Democrats believe in a public health care system that is world-class.

A system that supports the patients of Ontario and our front-line care providers.

We are proud to stand with nurses as they strive to provide the best possible health care.

To the nurses across our province: thank you. Thank you for all that you do for Ontario’s health.