Urgent action is required by Ontario government to address worsening staffing crisis in Ontario’s community health sector

Associations representing over 200,000 workers in community health respond to 2024 Ontario Budget

TORONTO, ON – Today, a coalition of Ontario’s community health care associations responded to Ontario’s 2024 Budget.

While we welcome the government’s targeted investments to strengthen Ontario’s health care workforce, the government missed an opportunity to take further steps to address the staffing crisis facing Ontario’s community health sector.

Despite the rising cost of living, the community health sector is more than $2 billion behind on wages compared to their peers doing similar work in other sectors Because of this wage disparity, the community health sector loses workers to other sectors every single day, and the ability of community health organizations to recruit and retain health workers is more difficult with each passing month that Ontario’s wages remain inequitable across the same jobs.

Last year, ten Ontario-based community health organizations representing over 200,000 community health workers released a report that outlines in detail the critical staffing crisis community health organizations are facing. This staffing crisis originates directly from a significant and growing wage gap between Ontario’s community health care workers and workers in other sectors. Based on the findings of this report, the ten associations released a pre-budget submission, including actions that the Ontario government can take to address this wage gap.

The community health sector enables Ontarians to receive the right care in the right place, providing preventative care and reducing the strain on overburdened emergency departments and hospital services. Without urgent action from the government to support the community health sector, essential health care services will become more difficult to access in our communities.

A commitment to sustainably grow our health care workforce requires an approach that includes all providers across our health care system and a unified, all-of-government response.  We support the government’s commitment to working for workers and creating better-paying jobs for the people of Ontario. These goals will only be achieved through a comprehensive long-term health human resources strategy that connects patients to care, closer to home.

Urgent action is required. We are ready to work with government to address this health human resource crisis and ensure the continued delivery of high-quality community health services.

About the associations:

Ontario’s community health sector is made up of over 200,000 workers in primary health care, mental health and addictions organizations, home and community care, long-term care and other community health settings. These workers include nurses, social workers, personal support workers, mental health professionals and many more roles that provide the backbone support of community health in Ontario. From nurses in primary care, addiction and social workers in mental health organizations, to personal support workers in long-term care, these are the dedicated workers who meet Ontario’s health needs in the community, outside of acute care settings, to help keep people well.

The associations include:

  • Addictions and Mental Health Ontario;
  • AdvantAge Ontario
  • Alliance for Healthier Communities;
  • Association of Family Health Teams of Ontario;
  • Canadian Mental Health Association Ontario;
  • Children’s Mental Health Ontario;
  • Family Service Ontario;
  • Indigenous Primary Health Care Council
  • Nurse Practitioner-Led Clinic Association;
  • Ontario Community Support Association