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Ontario Making Historic Investment in Provincial Nursing Workforce

The Ontario government is investing $763 million to provide Ontario’s nurses with a lump sum retention incentive of up to $5,000 per person. This payment will help to retain nurses across the health sector and stabilize the current nursing workforce during this critical time to ensure patients continue to access the health care they need and deserve.

“Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic nurses have stayed on the front lines with remarkable dedication and selflessness as they care for our sick and most vulnerable Ontarians, and we know that a strong nursing workforce is crucial to supporting the province’s recovery in the months and years ahead,” said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. “As we continue to build up our nursing workforce, this investment will support the nurses we currently have so that Ontarians continue to have access to the care they need during the COVID-19 pandemic and into the future.”

Through the temporary retention payment for nurses, the government will provide a lump sum payment of up to $5,000 for eligible full-time nurses and a prorated payment of up to $5,000 for eligible part-time and casual nursing staff across the province. The payment will be paid by employers in two installments.

Nurses eligible to receive the payment include nurses in hospitals, long-term care and retirement homes, home and community care, primary care, mental health and addictions, emergency services, and corrections, as well as range of other community based and developmental services including youth justice. Nurses in a management or supervisory role who were redeployed to a direct patient care role will qualify.

Retaining and hiring more nurses is one more way Ontario is creating a stronger health care workforce. Since March 2020, the government has launched emergency programs that have already added over 8,450 health care professionals to the system, including hospitals, long-term care homes and home and community care settings. These programs will also provide hospitals with the capacity to add another 4,000 additional providers to high-need hospitals to support staffing pressures due to COVID-19 by March 31, 2022, including the deployment of nursing students and other health care providers-in-training.

These initiatives build on the government’s commitment as part of the 2021 Ontario Economic Outlook and Fiscal Review: Build Ontario to invest $342 million over the next five years through immediate and longer-term recruitment initiatives which would add over 13,000 workers to Ontario’s health care system. This includes over 5,000 new and upskilled registered nurses and registered practical nurses as well as 8,000 personal support workers.


Quick Facts

  • To receive the first payment, nurses must be employed as of March 31 and to receive the second payment nurses must be employed on September 1.
  • In 2021-22, the province invested $35 million to add up to 2,000 additional nursing students at publicly-assisted colleges and universities across the province, for the Fall 2021 and Winter 2022 incoming cohorts.
  • The province is also collaborating with Ontario Health and the College of Nurses of Ontario (CNO) on initiatives to deploy internationally educated nurses to hospitals and other health care settings to work under the supervision of a regulated health care provider, such as a registered nurse or doctor. More than 1,200 internationally educated CNO applicants have expressed interest in participating in these initiatives so far.
  • In its continued support of nurses and their practice, the government recently approved scope of practice expansions for nurse practitioners, which will allow them order CT scans and MRI tests for their patients and to perform a broad range of point-of-care tests, making it easier and more convenient for patients to access the timely care they need.