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Retention bonus promised to nurses at SAH pushed back to July

In March, the Ontario government announced a retention bonus of up to $5,000 for each eligible nurse in the province to address staffing issues
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Sault Area Hospital. Darren Taylor/SooToday file photo

Nurses at Sault Area Hospital who were promised a retention bonus of up to $5,000 each in the spring will now have to wait until July for the first payout.

On March 7, the Ontario government announced a retention bonus of up to $5,000 for each eligible nurse in the province to be paid in two instalments. The bonuses were put in place to address staffing issues felt across the province, as some nurses were leaving the profession.

W.D. Lighthall, spokesperson for the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care, said the ministry is currently in the process of distributing funding to hospitals through Ontario Health as well as other eligible employers.

“As the ministry is not the direct employer of these workers, exact payment dates will depend on each individual employer and are expected to occur throughout the spring for the first instalment, followed by the second payment in September,” said Whitehall by email on Monday.

For nurses at Sault Area Hospital, that first instalment is expected on July 8, said Brandy Sharp Young, manager of communications and media services for SAH.

“Sault Area Hospital is in the process of working through the details around eligibility to align with the direction provided by the Ministry of Health for payment,” said Sharp Young.

SAH has been working with nursing staff and the ministry to understand the eligibility criteria to ensure all individuals who are eligible to receive a payment do so accurately, said Sharp Young..

“This work was done as quickly as possible once criteria information was received from the Ministry of Health and eligibility information from our nursing staff,” said Sharp Young.

In a previous SooToday story, vice-president Angela Preocanin of the Ontario Nurses’ Association said the bonus will not stop nurses who are leaving the profession and stated the repealing of Bill 124, which limited wage increases to one per cent for three years, would be a better solution.

Preocanin said many nurses are burned out after two full years of the pandemic and members of the mostly female-dominated profession make less than their front line counterparts in firefighting and policing.

“To say we are disappointed would be too mild," said Preocanin at the time. "We are angry, we are screaming angry at this. This is just a slap in the face to our members."

SooToday reached out to the ONA for this story but no spokespeople were made available.

Asked about staffing level changes for nurses at Sault Are Hospital, Sharp Young said the year-to-date overall attrition for nurses is trending slightly lower than last year and current hiring year-to-date exceeds attrition.


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Kenneth Armstrong

About the Author: Kenneth Armstrong

Kenneth Armstrong is a news reporter and photojournalist who regularly covers municipal government, business and politics and photographs events, sports and features.
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