Greater Napanee Council asks Premier to better support nurses

Premier Doug Ford will be receiving a letter from Greater Napanee Council pleading for the province to better support nurses and other frontline staff.

Greater Napanee Council discusses writing a letter to Premier Ford to amend Bill 124 to better support nurses, during a Zoom council meeting on Tuesday, Jun 8, 2021.

Councillor John McCormack wrote a letter to council asking for support in writing the Premier of Ontario to amend Bill 124 for better treatment of nurses.

“I’ve been hearing a lot recently in the news about the plight of nurses during this pandemic and how unfairly they’ve been treated with regards to their compensation compared to other frontline workers and first responders such as police, firefighters and paramedics. In 2019, the provincial government introduced and passed Bill 124, wage suppression legislation negatively impacting registered nurses, nurse practitioners and health care professionals,” McCormack’s letter to Council reads.

“The Bill limits wage increases to a maximum of one per cent total compensation for three years. Throughout the past 14 months – and counting – of this pandemic, health-care workers – especially nurses – across Ontario have cared for the citizens of Ontario, while confronting fears for their own health and safety and that of their loved ones. They are exhausted. They are burned out. Bill 124 forcibly suppresses the compensation of the very health-care workers that our provincial government calls ‘heroes,’” McCormack’s letter continues.

Deputy Mayor Max Kaiser moved a motion to support McCormack’s letter and spoke of his support of nurses and all healthcare workers through the pandemic.

“I’d like to make a motion, respectfully, that council support Ontario nurses and send a letter to Premier Doug Ford as well as Minister of Health Christine Elliot requesting that the government make changes to Bill 124 and allowed nurses to be treated fairly,” Kaiser said during the meeting. “And, that we request the support of other municipalities in Ontario, to do the same.”

McCormack said that it is only “appropriate, especially at this time, especially given everything” that council support amending Bill 124 in support of Ontario nurses.

“From my own recent experience and hospital stay, I can personally vouch for the amazing job that these nurses do,” McCormack wrote. He outlined the rate of pay for nurses versus other frontline staff, stating that a nurse with five years of experience makes $40.19 an hour, whereas a nurse with 25 years experience only makes 48 cents an hour more. On the other hand, a physician in the ICU would receive between $385-$450 an hour, according to the Ontario Medical Association.

Councillor Terry Richardson agreed with the motion, adding that nursing workloads are not about to get any lighter.

“The nurses work has only just begun with COVID-19. The follow up medical requirements [which] are going to be needed for things that were put on the back burner over the last year and a half are going to be unfathomable. When we suggest that the COVID is over and life is going go back to normal, well for a lot of us, it’s not going to,” said Richardson. “We just got to keep that in mind. So, I think this is a good idea.”

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