‘It’s going to bankrupt health care’: Spending on temp agency nurses up more than 550% since pre-pandemic at one Toronto hospital network
Toronto health care worker Linda Poulos uses her hands to create a doughnut on a sheet of cardboard. It’s a sign of where her health care might be headed under the direction of Health Sciences North. (CBC)
Ontario’s health care system faces an unprecedented public health crisis that could mean a major fiscal adjustment.
“The cost of care is unsustainable. It’s going to bankrupt health care,” said Linda Poulos, an RN who has been working as a healthcare worker at Toronto’s Humber River Hospital for more than 11 years.
The hospital system where Poulos works currently spends more than $500,000 on a temp agency nurse who comes into the hospital between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. daily.
That nurse is paid $6.50 an hour—double the standard union contract for emergency room nurses.
Under the current system, Poulos, who has been in the hospital for three decades, is a single mother of three kids and pays $2,000 a month directly to Toronto Community Health Services, the province’s largest social agency.
It’s a far cry from the care she was originally trained and employed to provide.
But Poulos, who said her salary has increased by more than $150,000 since the pandemic struck in March and kept on rising under new conditions, is a bit puzzled by the hospital’s behaviour.
“This is really crazy, right?” she said.
“Why are they paying $6.50 an hour, and not making me a full-time employee?” Poulos said.
The money is also not going to the person it was intended to, she said.
If Health Sciences North is allowed to remain open, she fear they will have no choice but to take drastic measures to reduce spending, which could be devastating to the healthcare system.
“If they have to cut staff, that�