Ontario is making it easier for internationally trained nurses to get to work on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Our government is collaborating with Ontario Health and the College of Nurses of Ontario to deploy internationally educated nurses to hospitals and long term care models in need of staffing support,” Minister of Health Christine Elliott said at a virtual press conference.
The announcement comes as 3,220 Ontarians are in hospital with COVID-19, and 477 patients are in ICUs. Ontario reported a record-breaking single-day high for ICU admissions on Tuesday. In the course of 24 hours, 80 adults were admitted to ICUs in the province.
The new government initiative will allow nurses to meet Ontario requirements by working in healthcare settings under the supervision of a regulated healthcare professional. According to Elliott, more than 1,200 nurses have already submitted applications.
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The initiative will also allow nursing and medical students and those in training to work on the front lines of the pandemic under supervision.
The announcement came just days after the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO) said that provincial restrictions were not enough and came too late in light of Omicron. Prior to that, in mid-December, Ontario’s COVID-19 Science Advisory Table released a brief on the staffing situation in hospitals. The brief showed that due to nursing shortages, hospitals wouldn’t be able to handle a surge in patients like previous waves.
The RNAO president is welcoming the news of allowing internationally trained nurses to work on the front lines, but indicates that it’s not enough.
BUT, HOW MANY Minister @celliottability
— Doris Grinspun RN, PhD LLD(hon),Dr(hc), FAAN,O.ONT (@DorisGrinspun) January 11, 2022
Other Ontario nurses are welcoming the news, but will continue to push the government to repeal Bill 124. The bill limits wage increases for nurses and other healthcare professionals.
I really hope the Minister of Health is not going to deviate from the need to #RepealBill124 ! It’s great news to fast track #IENs, however if Bill 124 remains, nurses will continue to quit. We need longstanding solutions. Band-aids won’t cut it. Nurses deserve better! #onpoli
— Birgit Umaigba RN, MEd (@birgitomo) January 11, 2022
A small bit of good news: the CEO of Ontario Health said that there appears to be a slight slowing in hospitalizations.
“The rate of increase on hospitalizations seems to be slowing,” Matthew Anderson, president and CEO of Ontario Health, told reporters on Tuesday.