Ontario Patients Need More Registered Nurses, Hospitals Must Fill 10,000 RN Vacancies

May 7, 2018

TORONTO, May 7, 2018 – Representatives of Ontario’s top two nursing organizations issued an urgent call today to fill registered nurse (RN) vacancies in provincial hospitals, a move they say is central to ensure patient safety and improve the level of care they receive.

At a Queen’s Park media conference, the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO) and Ontario Nurses’ Association (ONA) revealed that more than 10,000 RN positions are currently vacant in provincial hospitals, leaving patients without access to the expert care of RNs and vulnerable to increased risks of morbidity (complications) and mortality (death).

ONA President Vicki McKenna said that, “The fact is that Ontario hospital patients are almost invariably unstable and have unpredictable health outcomes, and need their care to be provided by registered nurses. We simply must staff our hospitals with more RNs now – we must fill those 10,000 vacant RN positions in hospitals and ensure that all new hires in hospitals have the education, competencies and skills, patients need and deserve.”

“The vast majority of Ontario’s acute and cancer care hospital patients have complex care needs and require the expertise of RNs,” emphasized RNAO Chief Executive Officer Doris Grinspun. “And there is clear evidence linking the care provided by RNs with lower mortality and morbidity rates, improved patient satisfaction, and better financial outcomes for the health system. We need more RNs if we want to keep people safe, improve their health outcomes, and reduce costly complications and re-admissions.”

RNAO and ONA leaders are urging all political parties to commit to making RN staffing a health-care priority by including a promise in their election platforms to immediately post and fill 10,000 RN vacancies. This will begin to fix the deficit in Ontario’s RN workforce and better serve patients. The two organizations are also urging that all new hires in acute care and cancer care hospital be RNs.

The nursing leaders say that for too long, Ontario has lagged behind other provinces when it comes to the number of RNs providing care. In Ontario, there are just 703 RNs per 100,000 people compared with an average of 839 RNs per 100,000 in the rest of the country. In fact, Ontario has the lowest RN-to-population ratio in the entire country. RNAO and ONA say a dramatic rebalancing of the RN workforce is needed to ensure patient safety, quality health outcomes and health system cost-effectiveness. The research is clear – RN care saves the health system overall by reducing hospital readmissions and reducing the incidence of patient complications, including pressure ulcers, pneumonia, cardiac arrests, falls, sepsis, infections and medication errors.

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-care system, and influenced decisions that affect nurses and the public they serve. For more information about RNAO, visit RNAO.ca or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

ONA is the union representing 65,000 registered nurses and health-care professionals, as well as more than 18,000 nursing student affiliates, providing care in hospitals, long-term care facilities, public health, the community, clinics and industry. Visit ONA at: ona.org; Facebook.com/OntarioNurses; www.Twitter.com/OntarioNurses


For more information:

Sheree Bond
Media Relations Officer
Ontario Nurses’ Association
Cell: 416-986-8240 / Phone: 416-964-8833 ext. 2430


Marion Zych
Director of Communications
Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO)
Cell: 647-406-5605 / Phone: 416-408-5605