The Ontario Liberals have been forced to abandon a fund of more than $40 million that failed to stem the loss of nurses in the province after spending 10 times more on expenses than on saving jobs, Postmedia has learned.
A decade after the government created the Nursing Retention Fund because of a fear nurses would be felled by waves of pink slips, nurses say they’re more short-staffed than ever and have taken over stewardship of the money through their associations and union.
That’s an arrangement that seemingly no one wanted — but the only option, thanks to a deal called an irrevocable trust inked by the Health Ministry in 2006 under then-minister George Smitherman.
In the fund’s 10 years, it paid out more than $6 million in expenses — more than tenfold what was paid out to save nursing jobs — to insurers, advisers, administrators and the bank trustee, CIBC Mellon Trust.
“To our surprise and grave concern, very few hospitals applied for funding. Since the inception of the program, $577,812 had been disbursed to hospitals,” nursing leaders wrote to Health Minister Eric Hoskins this year in a letter obtained by Postmedia.