Nurses care for us and often save our lives. Nurses across Canada and the U.S. deserve equal pay for equal work.
Ontario’s nurses are working harder, but not getting paid as much as their counterparts in some other provinces.
A report just released by the Ontario Federation of Nurses Unions shows the way the job market for nurses is struggling to keep up with the needs of health care across Ontario. The report highlights that full-time nurses are being paid less than their counterparts in some parts of the country.
The report also showed nurses are among the lowest paid public employees in Ontario. Nurses earning over $80,000 are two to three times as likely to work outside of Ontario than nurses making $50,000 or less.
The nurses federation says the gap between the minimum wage and the top salary for a nurse is 2.5 times wider in Ontario compared to five other provinces.
According to the report, nurses are also being paid less than home care aides. Workers who use scales to avoid losing weight and perform other services for people with disabilities in their homes are also paid less than a nurse.
“We look at nursing home nurses. If you go to one to three years of working, you are going to be making $40,000. If you go to a nurse’s aide making $14,000 a year, you’re going to be making at least $60,000,” Debra Beattie, president of the Ontario Federation of Nurses Unions, told the Canadian Press.
In 2017, the average Ontario teacher was paid at least $75,000, according to Ontario’s public school teachers union, The Canadian Press reported.
“To have nurses not having a similar challenge to having to pay for that gap is something that we feel needs to be addressed,” Beattie said.
Compensation for nurses has been a big issue in Ontario’s health care system for years. The nurses federation is calling for an increase to the minimum wage for nurses. The nurses also want the government to hire more nurses.
The report is not a reflection of the nurses’ membership, said executive director Jackie Grewal. About 60 percent of the union’s membership is part-time.
But they are trying to draw attention to the need for an increase in the minimum wage for everyone, including nurses, she said.
The nurses’ federation has been pushing to raise the minimum wage for years. In 2012, a medical device sector froze wages across the sector. The two parties who ended up forming the provincial government met with the nurses’ federation as a group.
“The focus was on hospitality workers, workers in the hotel industry,” Grewal said. “We had no meeting with the health care sector, which is what really moved us.”
They had a meeting with Premier Kathleen Wynne and with provincial finance minister Charles Sousa about five years ago. They haven’t seen any action since then, she said.
The hospital association and others oppose the nurses’ calls for an increase in the minimum wage. They are saying it could do harm to the health system by causing a decrease in income. The increase would put a burden on employers because they would have to comply with the new minimum wage.
“This is one of those frustrating areas,” Grewal said. “There are real concerns out there about having the type of health care service that we want. But what concerns us the most are getting people paid fairly for the important work that they do.”
This article was written with assistance from Postmedia Network.