‘It’s going to bankrupt health care’: Spending on temp agency nurses up more than 550% since pre-pandemic at one Toronto hospital network
The Ontario provincial government says it won’t change pay or benefits for temp agency nurses. But at the same time, Ontario’s health minister admitted it will change how it pays temp agency nurses. But that only applies to those nurses working in Toronto’s largest hospital network.
In late January, the former chair of the Ontario Nurses Association, Anne Ziebell, sent an email to nurses in one Toronto hospital’s nursing unit, indicating she was “alarmed” by revelations about temp agency nurses — they allegedly spent more than 550% more on their nursing training than the province paid.
But that message wasn’t sent to Toronto Health Network, the province’s largest network, which has a workforce of more than 17,000 nurses.
The Toronto Health Network’s (THN) CEO, Dr. John Manconi, said Friday that neither he nor the ministry had ever heard of a temp agency nurse who was being given more than 550% of his or her pay, as Ziebell suggested.
“We never put any limits on our rates of pay for nurses … we never have,” Manconi said, when asked about the emails from her that were sent to nurses working in the THN network.
Manconi clarified that he meant to say that he did not know of any temp agency nurses who were being paid more than the salary scale was in place for Ontario nurses at the time. “That’s not true,” he said. “I would love to know what the numbers are,” he added.
But in late January, Ziebell herself sent emails that were never sent to THN nurses, and instead, got them to her email address.
Ziebel said that she has since changed her position — the emails should have gone to THN, though she can no longer send them out.
Instead, THN’s CEO said they now have no idea when nor how they will begin to adjust their wages to make sure their nurses are paid a fair wage. He said he doesn’t consider himself responsible for the misleading email that was sent to THN nurses.