Ontario to recruit internationally educated nurses to deal with staffing shortages

Ontario's Health Minister, Christine Elliott, announces that internationally educated nurses will now be allowed to work in provincial hospitals and long-term care homes. The province also investing money into more critical care beds.

Minister of Health Christine Elliott said Tuesday that the province will deploy internationally educated nurses to Ontario hospitals and long-term care homes ravaged by the COVID-19 Omicron variant.

Elliott said the province is collaborating with Ontario Health and the College of Nurses of Ontario to deploy the nurses to facilities in need of staffing support.

The nurses will work as part of a team “under the supervision of a regulated health care provider, such as a registered nurse or doctor,” a provincial release states.

So far more than 1,200 internationally educated nurses have applied, and they could be at Ontario hospitals in just a few weeks.

Elliott made the announcement on Tuesday amid a spike in COVID-related hospital and ICU admissions that have sparked concerns about available beds and staffing levels.

She tried to assuage fears of a lack of ICU beds, saying there are currently 600 ICU beds free, with the capacity to add 500 more if needed.

On Tuesday, Ontario reported a spike of new COVID hospital admissions with 80 adults admitted to hospital the previous day — the highest number so far during the pandemic.

Non-urgent surgeries have also been paused for at least three weeks to free up hospital resources. That move is expected to affect up to 10,000 procedures weekly.

With files from The Canadian Press

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