Ontario rolls out programs to boost health staffing

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KITCHEN, Ont. — Ontario Health Minister Sylvia Jones says the province is starting three programs aimed at bolstering staffing in the health-care sector.

A $40-million fund to encourage health-care providers to better connect patients to services, a program to allow internationally trained physicians to work more quickly, and a nursing mentor program were all previously announced but are now launching.

The announcement comes as hospitals across the province grapple with a shortage of nurses that has led to dozens of temporary ER closures – the arbitrator who sets hospital nurses’ new contract says there are 9,000 registered nurse vacancies.

The Models of Care Innovation Fund will give funding to hospitals, family health teams and other health organizations for projects to allow faster access to care and boost health-care worker capacity, such as a staffing pool between hospitals and virtual peer support for ER doctors in rural areas.

A Clinical Scholar Program will pair an experienced front-line nurse as a mentor with newly graduated or internationally trained nurses, which Jones says will both help those nurses and will help retain experienced nurses.

As well, the province says a “practice ready” program for internationally trained physicians to remove barriers for them and will see 50 new doctors working in Ontario by 2024.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 24, 2023.

The Canadian Press