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Ontario offering nurses $5K bonuses to stay on the job longer

Four nurses standing in a hospital Emergency Room.
Ontario Nurses' Association
Ontario is offering incentives to get nurses to stay on the job longer.

Ontario is offering incentives to get nurses to stay on the job longer, but the three-quarters-of-a-billion-dollar investment may not be enough.

The provincial government is offering full time eligible nurses a one-time payment of $5,000 and part-time and casual nurses the same amount, but in two installments. The plan is aimed at retaining nurses across the healthcare sector, many of whom have been burned out by two years of fighting the coronavirus pandemic.

“ICUs, they do not have enough nurses for one-to-one care, not even one-to-two care," said Cathryn Hoy, president and interim CEO of the Ontario Nurses Association. "Emerg departments, they’re overflowing with ambulances waiting to offload their patients, people in waiting rooms because they’re operating at 50% capacity of nurses.”

The government says nurses who are eligible to receive the payments include those in hospitals, long-term care and retirement facilities, primary care and emergency services, to name a few.

"A strong nursing workforce is going to be critical to supporting the provinces recovery in the months and years ahead," said Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott. "Simply put, an investment in our nurses is an investment in our future.”

Many nurses aren’t happy with the offer. Their unions, representing 85,000 nurses, says it’s not enough. It says they want long-term meaningful solutions and they want the government to repeal legislation that has capped public sector raises at 1%.

Political opponents say the incentives are nothing more than an attempt by Doug Ford’s Conservatives to buy votes, with an election in less than three months.