Terence Kernaghan MPP, London North Centre

Government of Ontario

Horwath in London to call for health care hiring and retention plan, shorter wait times

Published on October 20, 2021

London Health Sciences alone short 82 critical care nurses

LONDON — The way to tackle London’s nursing shortage is to launch a major, province-wide health care hiring and retention plan, says Official Opposition Leader Andrea Horwath.

London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC) is funded for 700 critical care beds, requiring 420 nurses. Currently there are only 388 nurses working — leaving a shortfall of 82 nurses. Another 27 are slated to come on board this fall, but the rate of nurses quitting is double what it was before the pandemic. Clinton Public Hospital, about an hour north of London, had a temporary ER shut down in August because of a nursing shortage.

“Burnout is causing nurses, personal support workers and other health care workers to quit, leading to more understaffing and more burnout. It’s a dangerous cycle, and it’s causing nurses and other health care workers to literally run from patient to patient while people wait in pain.

“If we don’t do right by health care workers we’re going to lose them — and the painful waits will get longer.”

The former government froze hospital budgets and cut 1,600 nurses. Doug Ford has not restored those positions — and he’s passed a wage restraint law (Bill 124) that’s forcing all health care workers’ wages to fall behind. In contrast, Quebec is spending $1 billion to retain nurses and they also hired 10,000 personal support workers in the summer of 2020.

“Health care workers are heroes, and we need more heroes,” said Horwath. “To solve the long waits in London, we need a province-wide aggressive recruitment and retention strategy.

“Let’s show all health care workers we value them by getting rid of Ford’s wage cap bill, Bill 124. Let’s train new health care workers and give them full time jobs and fair wages. Let’s make sure health care workers have paid sick days and other supports to stay well. And let’s fund health care settings to have enough staff on each shift to ensure that people get the best care, and staff are protected from burnout.”