RNAO issues call to all Ontario MPPs: #StandWithNurses by demanding Bill 124 be repealed

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TORONTO, Dec. 7, 2021 /CNW/ - The Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario (RNAO) is issuing a call to action to all MPPs: Tell Premier Doug Ford you stand with nurses and want Bill 124 to be repealed.

In a letter sent to all Ontario MPPs Tuesday, RNAO asked them to show their support for Ontario's nursing profession by signing a pledge calling for the bill's immediate repeal.

The bill, which limits wage increases for nurses and other public sector workers to one per cent, is a slap in the face to the dedicated nurses who have been fighting the pandemic for the past 22 months. Enacted into law in 2019, it limits wage increases to one per cent per year. Given the rate of inflation, it means nurses have actually seen a substantial reduction in their salaries.

"The legislature is set to recess on Thursday (Dec. 9) and will not resume until Feb. 22. Ontarians cannot wait until then to resolve an urgent health-care crisis. This is why we are urging all MPPs to help our premier understand the dire consequences this bill is having on the nursing profession and the safe functioning of the health system," says RNAO CEO Dr. Doris Grinspun.

RNAO's letter outlines how nurses have been vocal about the bill's unfairness, how it has affected their livelihoods and caused them to question the government's commitment to nurses. It also warns that nurses have reached a tipping point in their frustration. Many have decided to leave their workplaces, with some leaving Ontario or the profession altogether. Many more will follow if action isn't taken to reverse course.

Grinspun says elected officials need to confront the reality on the ground. "Ontario's nursing landscape was bad enough before the pandemic. Ontario has the lowest RN-to-population ratio in the country. Add to that, the hardships of a long and difficult pandemic. Then layer onto this the extreme disgust nurses feel about Bill 124 and you have set the stage for an exodus of expert professionals at a time we cannot afford to lose even one nurse. That's how bad things are."

On Nov. 14, RNAO took part in a rally organized by a grassroots group of nurses known as Nursewithsign416 (@Nursewithsign on Twitter). During her address, Grinspun implored Premier Ford to repeal Bill 124 within 30 days. RNAO followed up its call with a letter to Premier Ford on Nov. 29.

"We have heard nothing from Premier Ford," says RNAO President Morgan Hoffarth, noting that nurses all over the province are dismayed and angered by Premier Ford's silence on this matter. "It demonstrates a profound disrespect towards those who have stepped up and given every ounce of themselves during this brutal pandemic," says Hoffarth, adding "we are facing the fight of our lives. In recent days, we have seen more than 1,000 new cases a day and two variants at play – Delta and Omicron. That's why we need a robust nursing profession that can meet the challenges we are facing now and well into the future. Ontarians should feel confident that the health system will meet their needs whether they are seeking treatment for the COVID-19 virus or waiting for surgeries, diagnostic tests or procedures. They should not have to worry that their health could be compromised by a premier that refuses to hear the plea of nurses."

The Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario (RNAO) is the professional association representing registered nurses, nurse practitioners and nursing students in Ontario. Since 1925, RNAO has advocated for healthy public policy, promoted excellence in nursing practice, increased nurses' contribution to shaping the health system, and influenced decisions that affect nurses and the public we serve. For more information about RNAO, visit RNAO.ca or follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

SOURCE Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario

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