Meeting between Ford and nurses ends with no commitment to repeal bill limiting salaries

Meeting between Ford and nurses ends with no commitment to repeal bill limiting salaries-Milenio Stadium-Ontário
A nurse walks down the hall in the Humber River Hospital intensive care unit on Jan. 13, 2022. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

The Ontario Nurses’ Association said no commitments were made during the meeting with Premier Doug Ford to repeal a bill that limits annual salary increases for nurses.

Cathryn Hoy, provincial president of the Ontario Nurses’ Association, met with Ford, Health Minister Christine Elliott, and government officials on Thursday to discuss staff shortages.

Hoy said in a news release that while the premier expressed interest in fixing the nursing shortage, he did not commit to repealing Bill 124. The Ontario Nurses’ Association received an invitation to a second meeting to discuss nursing retention with Ford.

“While I am deeply disappointed that the Premier did not commit to repealing Bill 124, I am hopeful that our meeting next week will be productive. We do agree with Premier Ford’s position that Canada’s federal health transfers should increase,” said Hoy in a news release.

Bill 124, which was enacted in 2019, caps the wage increases of provincial employees, like nurses and teachers, at just one per cent per year, which is below the rate of inflation.

In a news release Thursday, Hoy said that the organization’s front-line nurses and health-care professionals are “burned out and demoralized.”

“We know this can be fixed, though it will take time to mend the system,” she said.

The Ontario Nurses’ Association represents more than 68,000 nurses and health-care professionals, as well as 18,000 nursing student affiliates.

In a joint statement, Ford and Elliott said they were pleased with the meeting with the ONA and acknowledged that more needs to be done to expand staff.

“Every single province is feeling the same strain on their health care system, including capacity issues, staffing shortages and surgical backlogs. No province can do it on their own. We need the federal government to be a true funding partner by increasing the Canada Health Transfer,” they said.

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