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Ontario’s Dependence on For-Profit Nursing Agencies
La dépendance de l’Ontario envers les agences de soins infirmiers à but lucratif

October 23, 2023

Ontario’s dependence on for-profit nursing agencies a no-win situation

During question period, France Gélinas, MPP for Nickel Belt, asked the Minister of Health Sylvia Jones, what her government was doing to protect Ontario’s health Care system.

“Ontario is facing a health human resources crisis. Whether we look at emergency room closures, at the 2.2 million Ontarians who don’t have access to primary care, or the long waitlists for surgery. It is getting worse, not better. Does the Minister believe that nursing agencies are part of the solution to Ontario’s health human resources crisis?”

The Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions has sponsored a study to examine the exponential use of nursing agencies and the companies behind them. The hourly fee for on demand health professionals is reportedly two to three times higher than the staff hourly rate on top of agency “finder” fees for procuring and scheduling urgently needed health-care workers.

“Let me tell you speaker, what nursing agencies do to our health care system. They have exploded in every part of Ontario. In order to have quality care you need continuity of care, with nursing agencies there is no continuity, they affect quality of care. They poach health care professionals from our hospitals, from our health care system to go work in nursing agencies. They charge up to $300 an hour plus signing bonuses for a nurse who will get not even a third of that, who usually makes $39 an hour. What is this government doing about the multiple problems created throughout our health care system directly linked to nursing agencies?”

According to an arbitration decision from mid-summer the use of private nursing agencies to fill staffing gaps in Ontario hospitals has increased more that 400% since 2019.