Expansion of private clinic procedures will affect hospital nurse bargaining: union

TORONTO — The union representing Ontario hospital nurses says the province's intention to expand procedures at private clinics means hospitals will have to do more in upcoming contract negotiations to entice professionals to stay.

Premier Doug Ford announced Monday that the province will fund more procedures such as cataract surgeries, MRI and CT scans and hip and knee surgeries in the communityin order to reduce wait lists and ease the pressures on hospitals.

Amid concerns raised by critics is a worry that hospitals will see further staffing crunches if workers such as nurses choose to work at clinics offering weekday, 9-5 shifts, instead of the overnight and weekend work that happens in hospitals.

The Ontario Nurses' Association is preparing for bargaining to start Jan. 30 for their members who work in hospitals, and the interim president says there will be some big asks in order to ensure nurses stay in those facilities.

Bernie Robinson says nurses need to see better shift premiums to recognize work outside business hours and to entice nurses to do it, as well as higher pay to compensate for the rising cost of living and three years of wage increases constrained by legislation known as Bill 124.

Robinson is not divulging the specific proposals the ONA will make at the bargaining table, but says she will also be pushing for improved policies on vacation, workloads and work-life balance, as they will also help with staff recruitment and retention.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 17, 2023.

The Canadian Press