ONA says New FAO Report Shows Nurses, Public-Sector Workers Robbed of Billions by Ford Government
September 28, 2022
TORONTO, ON, September 28, 2022 – A new Financial Accountability Office report released today shows the Ford government is stealing some $9.7-billion in salary from nurses, health-care professionals and some public-sector workers over the period of 2019-2027. The report notes that staffing shortages are a major risk for the province, something borne out by emergency department closures in this province predicted by the Ontario Nurses’ Association (ONA).
“It is no secret that Ontario’s health-care system is experiencing a crisis,” says Cathryn Hoy, RN, ONA President. “Common sense dictates that if there is a severe shortage of skilled nurses and health-care professionals then there should be an immediate incentive to enhance their conditions of work, including workplace safety and salaries. What we have instead is a government deliberately robbing nurses and health-care professionals of the wages they are owed, driving even more out of the system at the worst possible time. I’m certain if you asked Ontarians, having access to an open emergency department is a bigger priority for them than suppressing workers’ wages.”
The FAO report shows that in Ontario, average public-sector salaries increased at a rate lower than inflation for the past decade compared to the private sector and other public-sector workers in municipal and federal positions. The report also shows that vacancy rates in the health sector have nearly doubled since 2019, when Bill 124 was first implemented by this government.
“Our nurses, health-care professionals and public-sector workers have been robbed of salary increases due to Bill 124,” says Hoy, “and the report predicts that nurses and health-care professionals will likely experience below-inflation increases for the coming five years as well. Unless something changes, this will only serve to drive more nurses and health-care professionals out of the system.”
Hoy believes that this short-sighted focus on denying decent and appropriate compensation and respect to highly skilled and much-needed health-care workers is not just intolerable for the workers, but bad public policy. “Ontarians who find themselves in need of care are suffering, all due to the single-minded policy of this government to not show respect to those who provide care,” she says. “The irony is that the harm these policies are causing is not just limited to the workers, but extends to every Ontarian and the industries they work in. It’s disgraceful.”
Hoy says that Bill 124 has caused further damage to an already underpaid sector of highly educated female workers, while exempting some male-dominated professions from this wage-suppression legislation. “This is 2022, and there is no excuse for gender-targeting laws,” she says. “Taxpayers should be incensed that this self-professed “business-friendly” government is doing such harm to those who play such a vital role in keeping the province productive and healthy.”
ONA is the union representing more than 68,000 registered nurses and health-care professionals, as well as 18,000 nursing student affiliates, providing care in hospitals, long-term care facilities, public health, the community, clinics and industry.