The Ontario government is now offering up to $5000 as an incentive to nurses for job retention.
Health Minister Christine Elliott said Monday the payments are meant to support the nursing workforce as the province recovers from the pandemic. Nurses in hospitals, long-term care, retirement homes, home care, mental health and addictions, emergency services and corrections and others who worked directly with patients during the pandemic will be eligible.
“A strong nursing workforce is going to be critical to supporting the provinces recovery in the months and years ahead. Simply put, an investment in our nurses is an investment in our future,” she said at a news conference in Belleville, Ont.
The government has worked out the plan to cost $763 million. Payments will come from employers in two instalments, in a lump sum for full-time nurses and as a prorated payment for part-time and casual nursing staff.
People must be employed as of March 31 to receive the first payment and Sept. 1 to receive the second.
Elliott said the government is working with employers to get the first payments out “within the next few months.”
Nurse retention has been raised as a key issue through Ontario’s battle with the COVID-19 pandemic
Unions have raised concerns about burnout and low wages after two years of the pandemic, factors they argue are driving people to leave the professional altogether.
A Band Aid Solution?
A group of healthcare unions called the retention payment a “temporary fix” that they said won’t help retain nurses who want long-term support.
SEIU Healthcare, Unifor, the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions and the Ontario Nurses’ Association issued a joint statement that was also critical of the fact that other health-care workers were excluded from the retention bonus.
“We are once again cautioning you against further demoralizing the workforce by providing one-time payments to some, but not all, health care workers,” the union presidents said in an open letter to Premier Doug Ford.
“While you’re promising up to five-thousand dollars for nurses, what they really want is the support to do their jobs well and to do them safely.”
The group called again on Premier Doug Ford to repeal Bill 124, and take urgent action to better respect, protect, and pay healthcare workers. Read the release HERE.