October 31, 2023
Let’s stop the for-profit nursing agency gravy train
This morning in the legislature, NDP Health Critic France Gélinas, MPP for Nickel Belt, questioned Minister of Health Sylvia Jones regarding the growing influence of for-profit nursing agencies in Ontario’s health Care system and what is being done to protect patient care.
“This morning in the media studio, Erin Ariss, the President of the Ontario Nurses Association stated, and I quote : Our publicly funded hospitals and long-term care homes are seeing their budgets drained by these greedy, for-profit nursing agency owners who bill obscene amounts of money.
Is the Minister of Health taking any action whatsoever, to stop private for-profit nursing agencies from making millions of dollars in profit at the expense of quality of patient care?”
MPP Gélinas and NDP Long-term Care Critic Wayne Gates (Niagara Falls) were joined by Ontario Nursing Association President Erin Ariss and Dave Verch, Vice President of CUPE’s Ontario Council of Hospital Unions, for a press conference to discuss Gélinas’ bill the Healthcare Staffing Agencies Act 2023.
“Speaker, Dave Verch, Vice President of CUPE’s Ontario Council of Hospital Unions was also present this morning, he stated and I quote: “agency staff are paid as much as 300 percent more than hospital staff which is contributing to a staffing crisis with stark consequences for patient care”
Will this government take action to ensure that health care dollars are paying for care, not lining the pockets of private nursing agencies executives?”
If passed, the Healthcare Staffing Agencies Act 2023 would direct every hospital and long-term care home in a municipality with a population of 8,000 or more to develop a plan to limit its spending on agencies. Agencies established after the Act comes into force will be not-for-profit and any agency which receives more than $400,000 in public money is under oversight by the Auditor General, the Patient Ombudsman, the Ontario Ombudsman and the Integrity Commissioner with all employees included on the Sunshine List. An agency is forbidden from paying its workers more than 10% above the existing rate in the hospital or long-term care home for the relevant profession. An agency is also forbidden from poaching employees from hospitals or long-term care homes.