05/17/2013 05:00 EDT | Updated 07/16/2013 05:12 EDT

Ontario Nurses Association seeks moratorium on cuts to registered nursing jobs

TORONTO - The Ontario Nurses Association is calling for a moratorium on cuts to registered nursing positions in the province.

The union says Ontario has the second-lowest RN-to-population ratio in the country: 668 RNs per 100,000 residents, compared to an average of 785 RNs to 100,000 residents in other provinces and territories.

It says the Ontario health system employed 844 fewer RNs in 2012 than it did in 2011.

The ONA says cuts in RNs are happening in Ontario even though the Liberals promised to fix the problem when they took office 2003.

A statement from the union says nurses are the professionals who provide most of the front-line care to patients in Ontario, and that scientific research studies have demonstrated there are fewer deaths and complications when more RNs are providing direct patient care.

Last week, the union released new research that shows understaffing is causing more work-related injuries and illness. The union says the researh shows RNs are the most injured workers in Ontario — facing more dangerous workplace conditions than even several groups of construction and manufacturing workers.

“Cutting Registered Nurse jobs is cutting health care,” said Andy Summers, regional vice-president for the Greater Toronto Area.

“Health care is consistently the number one concern of voters. If you are running a government that claims to be improving health care, there is no reasonable justification for allowing RN jobs to be cut.”