RPNAO remains cautiously supportive of Ontario government's health care agenda
MISSISSAUGA - The Registered Practical Nurses Association of Ontario (RPNAO) remains cautiously supportive of the Ontario government's health care transformation agenda but questions whether the announcements in the 2013 Ontario Budget will be adequate to address challenges associated with shifting demographics and a looming nursing shortage.
The association, which represents Ontario's Registered Practical Nurses (RPNs), says it is encouraged by several announcements in the budget, including the increase in overall funding for home and community care services. "The government's decision to increase home and community care funding by an additional one per cent per year - on top of the four per cent annual increase announced last year - is important, as it helps address the need to provide Ontarians with the right care, at the right time, in the right place," says Dianne Martin, Executive Director of RPNAO. "However, if you're going to shift the delivery of some health care services from hospitals into the community, the funding increases must be adequate to support the increases in patients that are accessing those services. Let's make sure we always put the patient first."
At the same time, the government is continuing to hold growth in Ontario hospitals' base operating funding to zero per cent in 2013-14. "We all agree that rising costs are threatening the quality of our health care system," says Martin. "However, with a zero per cent funding increase, we are likely to see the continued erosion of nurse-to-patient hours and increased workloads for nurses, which will result in higher costs due to increases in sick time, absenteeism, overtime and losses to nurses due to burn out."
RPNAO says it is vital that the government consult with Ontario's nurses as part of the process of determining and allocating health care resource levels going forward. "No one knows the needs of Ontario's patients, residents and clients better than our nurses," says Martin. "That's why nurses need to be consulted more closely on health care spending priorities."
The nursing association also supports the government's commitment to reducing home care wait times for nursing services as well as its continued commitment to provide long-term care homes with a two per cent annual increase in funding for direct resident care. "RPNs represent the largest nursing workforce in long-term care and the fastest-growing category of care provider in home care," says Martin.
"There are nearly 33,000 RPNS working in Ontario, 95 per cent of whom work in direct practice positions. RPNs are skilled, knowledgeable nurses who provide a high quality of health care in a cost effective manner. As such, they have a vital role to play in the transformation to a more sustainable, high quality health care system that benefits all Ontarians."