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One of the biggest issues facing health care in Ontario is the overburdened health care system. Our health care workers, including doctors and nurses, are experiencing increased levels of stress and burnout because of the extensiveness of patients and their complex needs. Mental health issues, including substance abuse, depression, and suicide have been increasing in recent years, and it’s clear that there is a pressing demand to find an adequate solutions to the myriad concerns making it more difficult for patients to receive care and for physicians to provide it. From a policy perspective, there are a few proposed solutions that I think are viable to cover most, if not all of these major issues emerging in Ontario. The first of these is Bill 124, which caps wage increases for public sector contracts at one per cent per year for three years. The repeal of this bill has been a priority of the Registered Nurses’ Association for a while now, and they’ve made it clear that this bill is preventing nurses from getting compensated fairly. If the bill were repealed, this would incentivize nurses to stay in the field and encourage students to pursue this career path, which would simultaneously address the shortage. The problem with this bill is that aside from disincentivizing future nurses, it also inhibits their ability to negotiate wage increases – not to mention that they feel devalued, overworked, and frustrated by the lack of support from the Ontario government. From the government’s perspective, they feel they are protecting the process of bargaining, but not the outcome, nor the ability of public sector workers to engage in meaningful bargaining. They essentially believe that wage increases were too high and unsustainable. Given the arguments made by both sides, I do believe that repealing the bill is imperative. With the migration of nurses from publicly funded hospitals to private agency work, the staggering increase in frustration, burnout, and lack of available quality care for patients, it’s no stretch to say we are in a crisis. Repealing this bill is a start and should be at the top of the priority list.

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