OPSEU/SEFPO calls on government to address staffing problems across health care sector

Toronto – OPSEU/SEFPO is calling on the government to create a long-term plan for addressing recruitment and retention problems across Ontario’s health care sector, in the face of severe shortages in numerous fields.

The government will be providing eligible nurses a $5,000 one-time recruitment and retention payment this year.  OPSEU/SEFPO President Warren (Smokey) Thomas calls the announcement a positive step, but is stressing the need for a thorough plan to resolve the shortages across the entire health care system.

“Ontario’s front line nurses deserve to be recognized for their strength and resilience throughout this pandemic and this announcement is welcome,” said Thomas. “However there are other job categories that need similar attention and they can’t be left out.”

OPSEU/SEFPO First Vice-President/Treasurer Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida also applauds this recognition of nurses, but also noted that the government continues to limit their wages by keeping Bill 124 in place.

“This bonus to Ontario’s hardworking nurses is long-overdue for their heroism, but a one-time payment is not enough,” said Almeida. “It is time to throw Bill 124 in the trash and let all health care workers bargain for the wages they deserve.”

OPSEU/SEFPO represents tens of thousands of health care workers in Ontario. Chair of the union’s Health Care Divisional Council (HCDC), Jill McIllwraith, expressed her concerns over worker burnout across the health care sector due to severe staffing shortages.

“Recruitment and retention is a major problem not only in nursing, but in many other fields in our health care system,” said McIllwraith. “Workers in labs, pharmacies, and radiation technology, to name just a few, have been fighting burn out for years. We need a strong, overarching plan to fix these staffing issues as soon as possible.”

For more information:

Warren (Smokey) Thomas, 613-329-1931, OPSEUCommunications@opseu.org