Through a new ad campaign, the Ontario Nurses Association is working to educate the public on how laying off hundreds of nurses is not just troublesome for those in the profession but also means an increase in patient complications and longer recovery times.
The Ontario Nurses Association launched phase two of its “Nurses Know” ad campaign earlier this month.
Its goal: Show the public and government officials how budget cuts that led to layoffs of hundreds of registered nurses (RNs) and nurse practitioners (NPs) also lead to an increase in patient complications and longer recovery times.
“For every extra patient added to the average workload of an RN, the risk of patient complications and death increases by 7 percent,” reads a petition started by ONA, which at press time had close to 18,000 signatures. The Canadian government shouldn’t try to balance the budget at the expense of the health of the people of Ontario, it said.
The loss of RNs and NPs in recent years has been dramatic, but ONA’s Provincial Vice President Vicki McKenna, RN, told Associations Now the cuts have been particularly astounding in the past 24 months. “Last year we lost nearly 800 positions in the province,” she said.
This year nearly 500 positions have been cut—most of those are RN positions in acute care and high-end trauma centers. “Places where people’s healthcare needs are their highest,” McKenna said.
The first stage of ONA’s nursing layoffs awareness campaign, which launched last fall, included television, radio, and print ads that showed both the dedication and skills that RNs have as well as the challenges they face.
With the second stage, ONA hopes to educate the public on the role RNs play in healthcare. It includes new TV, radio, and print ads, as well as transit and social media ads.
Specifically, ONA’s phase-two campaign focuses on the “professionalism of RNs, their medical knowledge, and advanced education that qualifies them to care for patients suffering from complex illnesses with unpredictable outcomes, like patients in hospitals,” an ONA news release said.
“Nurses know that patient care is suffering because we see it on the front lines each and every day,” said ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud, RN. “The question is, do we value our health care enough to speak out against the cuts that are doing so much harm?”
Since ONA launched its campaign, thousands of concerned Ontarians have emailed and phoned the organization wanting to know how to help fund adequate nursing staff. ONA encourages the public to sign its petition and support the group’s call to end RN cuts, restore adequate hospital funding, and fund a multiyear plan to increase the RNs-to-population ratio. The group has also urged Ontarians to call and email their parliamentary representative.
McKenna noted ONA’s campaigns are predominantly directed at informing the public and government officials on how policies and funding affects the health of Ontarians, not necessarily how the association’s 60,000 members are impacted. “Every patient deserves the best quality care possible,” Haslam-Stroud said. “RNs will continue to try to make Ontario’s health-care system better, and we ask Ontarians to join us.”