A report on the country’s nursing workforce by the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) confirms a dangerous reality about health-care services first identified by the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO). Not only is the registered nurse (RN) share of nursing employment dropping, but Ontario’s RN-to-population ratio is now the worst in Canada. RNAO calculations based on CIHI figures show the province has only 711 RNs per 100,000 people compared to the national average of 841 per 100,000 people.
According to CIHI, registered practical nurses (RPNs) – who have two years of college education, as compared to RNs who hold a four-year university degree – increased their share of employment from 21.8 per cent to 28.5 per cent between 2006 and 2015 in Ontario. During that same time period, the RN share saw a corresponding drop across the province.
RNAO president Carol Timmings says the realities revealed by the CIHI numbers jeopardize Ontario’s ability to adequately meet the care needs of its people. “The province must focus attention on two priorities. First, it must stop RN replacement, whether it is in the form of layoffs or by attrition. Second, it needs to increase the number of RNs providing care. We need almost 18,000 RNs just to catch up with the rest of the country.”