Volume 94, Issue 69

Thursday, January 25, 2001


Government initiates funding for more nursing

Helicopter improves cops: prof

Year-round school to be debated

Free trade could span education and health

Canadians getting older and healthier


Planet Me

Government initiates funding for more nursing

By Paul Kerr and Warren Ross
Gazette Writers

The provincial government has announced it will put $49 million into nursing education programs in hopes of averting a possible nursing shortage.

Critics argue, though, that the money will do nothing to remedy the shortage of Ontario nursing graduates leaving the province for careers elsewhere.

"The funding is a step in the right direction to help fix the nursing shortage in Ontario. However, it fails to address many issues like working conditions that are encouraging the displacement of nurses from the province and the profession," said Melanie Pottens, media relations director for the Ontario Nurses' Association.

She said the average age of nurses in Ontario and Canada is 48-years-old, so the increase in funding is timely, but much more needs to be done.

Francis Larking, the Ontario Liberal party's healthcare critic, also questioned the plan. "Training more people as nurses will only benefit the province if the graduates stay in Ontario to work," she said.

Over 50 per cent of nursing graduates leave the province after completing their training, Larking said. She added she is concerned about the loss of nearly 50 per cent of Canadian nurses to retirement over the next 10 years.

According to Larking, hospital funding must be increased to improve the working conditions that frustrate many nurses.

Minister of Health and Long-Term Care Elizabeth Witmer, said in a statement that increasing the number of new nurses trained in Ontario will allow the province to meet the needs of a growing and aging population.

She also outlined the government's plan over the next three years to increase nursing enrollment and enhance education facilities with an investment of $24.3 million.

The funding increase will be felt here at Western's nursing program, said Carol Iwasiw, director of Western's nursing school. "These funds will allow for an extra 12 students into the program each year," she said.

Still, Iwasiw agreed while the funding increase will help avert a nursing shortage, more spots need to be created and more funding must be restored to healthcare.

Iwasiw said she thinks that the investment in the nursing program will further develop a program that boasts the highest admissions average at Western and one of the best in Canada.

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