Ontario’s minister of health claimed on Wednesday that there was not an “exodus” of health-care workers during the COVID-19 pandemic or after the Ford government passed a wage-cap law in 2019.
Sylvia Jones made the comments after a question about Bill 124, the controversial wage restraint legislation struck down by a court on Tuesday afternoon.
“We have not seen a mass exodus of nurses leaving the system,” Jones told reporters.
“What we have are nurses and health-care practitioners who have a lot of options to choose when they want to practise nursing in the province of Ontario.”
Asked if she believed there was not a staffing crisis in Ontario, Jones replied, “that’s not what I’m saying.”
Her comments came the day after Ontario lost, and resolved to appeal, a court decision over the constitutionality of Bill 124.
The legislation, protested particularly vehemently by organizations representing nurses, was ruled unconstitutional by an Ontario court in a decision released on Tuesday.
The ruling said the law infringed on the rights to collective bargaining and freedom of association.
Soon after the decision was rendered, the Ford government said it was planning to file an appeal.
“I can tell you how the nurses feel, they feel completely devalued,” Ontario NDP health critic France Gélinas said of Bill 124.
Adil Shamji, the Liberal health critic, said vacancy rates “across this province speak for themselves.”