Ministry data reveals that Ontario requires 33,000 more nurses

May 14, 2024 | Headlines, News, Provincial News

Eight months into his nursing job at Credit Valley Hospital, Adrian threw in the towel. The 23-year-old, whose last name is being withheld due to fears of professional reprisal, says this wasn’t a snap decision.

“It was an extended period where I realized I was getting more tired,” Adrian says. “I love nursing, I enjoyed what I did for my job. I left the nursing field due to bad working conditions. At the time, I was seeing seven patients. Typically, you only see five. When the workload gets higher, it gets very difficult.”

As per the response to an FOI request by The Canadian Press, Ontario is estimated to require 33,200 more nurses and 50,853 more personal support workers by 2032.

A similar FOI request by Global News was denied access to. The government won against Global News in front of the Information and Privacy Commissioner to keep this data private.

Paula Chin, 40, works with the University Health Network in Toronto. She says the reason that the figures were not disclosed could be because it’s about admitting that there is a problem.

“It takes money to make changes,” says Chin. “A lot of it is financially motivated. The way that the hospitals are set up or the healthcare system is set up is to be a progressive plan over time, but I believe the real numbers are not being published because they would have to pay a lot more money and they would have to admit that the healthcare system needs a lot more funds.”

Adrian says that the people managing the allocation of funds aren’t always equipped with a background in medicine.

“People who make the decisions for where funding goes typically aren’t medically trained,” he says. “When you have got a guy who has a business degree and then a masters in hospital management, he doesn’t actually know what it’s like to be on the floor. It’s hard for that guy to conceptualize how to allocate funds properly.”

Adrian was in nursing school at the peak of COVID-19 and graduated in 2021. He said that the pandemic coupled with “medical misinformation” added to the pressure.

“When I got my co-op, the workload was exceedingly heavy for a student nurse,” he said. “We were working overtime, the hours were rough, we had extra patients.”

Chin, who has worked as a nurse for 17 years, says that there are ways to tackle the issue of hours and workload.

“A manageable amount of work, another thing that will help is having support,” says Chin. “I have worked at many different hospitals and I do feel supported in the environment that I am in. I have worked in other environments where I did not feel supported so I left. So it does depend on the morale of the organization,” she said.

Adrian was working 55 hours a week, sometimes even 65 during COVID. Now he works with motorcycles.

“I make less money right now than I did nursing, but I am in a career where I have way less stress,” Adrian said.