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The Toronto Sun CareerConnection

Health minister kicks off nursing week

Health and Long-Term Care Minister George Smitherman kicked off Nursing Week on Monday by holding a live webcast to speak directly with nurses across the province.

"Today I have the chance to say thank you directly to nurses across Ontario and to speak with them about how we can improve health care in Ontario together," Smitherman said. "Nurses are the heart and soul of our health care system, and a strong nursing profession is crucial to our plan to build a healthier Ontario."
Resolving the nursing shortage and improving working conditions are top priorities for Ontario's registered nurses, who are celebrating Nursing Week from May 10-16.
"... nurses are overstretched and are having a difficult time," said Linda Haslam-Stroud, RN, President of the Ontario Nurses' Association (ONA). "Our priority is working with the provincial government to resolve these issues. We have to make things better for nurses, to make things better for their patients."
  • Nurses are the largest group of health care professionals in Canada. In 2002, there were 254,752 registered nurses (RNs) in Canada.
  • The average age of a RN is 44.2.
  • Just over 5% of nurses are male.
  • Most practicing RNs are employed in hospitals (59.7%). Other major places of employment include nursing homes, community health centres, home care agencies, educational institutions and physicians' offices/clinics.
  • According to a Canadian Nurses Association (CNA) study, there will be a shortfall of 78,000 nurses by 2011 and 113,000 by 2016.
  • The ratio of practising RNs to the Canadian population in 2002 was one nurse to every 136 people.
  • In 2002, 86% of nurses worked in direct patient care, 5% in administration, 4% in education and 1% in research.
    - Courtesy of CNA

  • The minister said the McGuinty government has taken significant steps to restore the foundations of the nursing profession by earmarking funding to hospitals specifically to:

  • Create more full-time nursing positions.

  • Improve working conditions for nurses.

  • Buy new safety equipment for nurses and their patients.

    "Our government is bringing about better, safer patient care through investing in more full-time nursing positions, improved working conditions and workplace health and safety," Smitherman said.

    St. Michael's Hospital

    Smitherman commended St. Michael's Hospital -- where the web- cast was held -- for their success in expanding full-time nursing staff.

    "We are providing funding so that every hospital in the province can hire full-time nurses," Smitherman said.

    "St. Michael's Hospital has demonstrated real leadership by going a step further and working within its own budget to expand its full-time nursing staff for the benefit of patients."

    "St. Michael's Hospital supports the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care's objectives to fund full-time nursing positions, and improve working conditions and educational opportunities for nurses," said Ella Ferris, interim chief nursing officer at St. Michael's Hospital.

    "In addition to the new nursing funds announced in February by the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care, St. Michael's Hospital is committed to hiring 70 full-time nurses and reducing overtime and agency nursing."

    -- Sun wire services

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