TORONTO, Dec. 1, 2021 /CNW/ - The Ontario Nurses' Association (ONA), the union representing 68,000 front-line registered nurses (RNs) and health-care providers, says it is 'unsurprised' by revelations in today's auditor general's report that confirm the province was unprepared to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and discarded a stockpiled supply of N95 respirators.
"ONA has seen where the priorities of this government lie throughout the pandemic," says ONA President Vicki McKenna, RN. "We were alarmed in January of 2020 when our warnings to the Ford government to put protocols in place in all health-care sectors for a pandemic got no reaction – or action," says ONA President Vicki McKenna, RN. "We were suspicious that N95 respirators seemed to be in short supply and were not forthcoming, despite the premier's assurance that Ontario had an adequate supply. This report simply confirms our suspicions – and it is inexcusable that our front-line RNs and health-care professionals have suffered because of it."
McKenna says it is both deeply disheartening and infuriating to see confirmation that the health and safety of front-line providers has been treated in such a cavalier manner. "The auditor general has said aloud what we have alleged for almost two years – that our members have been put at risk by the failures of government and employers. The utter failure to learn from the lives lost during the SARS pandemic and disregard for the safety of those who have been on the front lines for their patients has contributed to the current nursing shortage in this province – as our members have been sickened, and some have died, others have left the profession forever. The fact that this government gave unqualifying businesses $210 million in COVID relief funds as our RNs and health-care providers were unprotected and sickened shows where the Ford government's priorities lie."
McKenna also expressed concern about the lack of provincial oversight and lack of reviews of funding for some surgeries, and the unused or underused capacity for different types of outpatient surgery.
"This report shows that the Ford government has prioritized business over the health and well-being of Ontarians and those who care for them" says McKenna. "Health care and the economy should not have to compete but should and can work together; both are vital to Ontarians."
"We hope every resident of this province thinks hard about their own priorities for government as the June election approaches."
ONA is the union representing more than 68,000 registered nurses and health-care professionals, as well as more than 18,000 nursing student affiliates, providing care in hospitals, long-term care facilities, public health, the community, clinics and industry.
SOURCE Ontario Nurses' Association
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