Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Friday May 19, 2023
Nursing Agencies: Profits Over Patients
Nursing agencies are taking advantage of the nursing shortage, driving up profits while pushing publicly-funded organizations towards bankruptcy. This predatory behavior harms our health care system and must be addressed.
Nursing agencies were meant to address short-term staffing shortages, not fill chronic, province-wide, full-time nursing staff gaps. Reliance on these agencies is unsustainable and leaves rural hospitals and long-term care homes with limited options and soaring costs.
The recent closure of the emergency department in Minden, Ontario, due to staff shortages, highlights the community-wide impact. Nursing agencies thrive due to lack of regulation, charging exorbitant rates up to $300 per hour, while public hospitals are restricted from offering incentives.
This creates conflict among colleagues, as agency nurses earn more while permanent staff train them and supervise their work. The toxic environment drives nurses away, hindering the profession and discouraging new talent.
Instead of relying on agencies, we should focus on training more nurses within Canada and supporting countries in need. Expanding nursing student seats and fostering partnerships between universities and rural hospitals will attract and retain nurses in underserved areas.
We must establish government oversight, including licensing and cost restrictions for nursing agencies, to protect nurses and ensure affordable, high-quality health care.
It’s time to prioritize the stability of our nursing workforce and build a more equitable health care system for all. (AI)