Ottawa

County gets no applicants for nurse practitioner job, looks to up salary to $160K

After months of struggling to hire a nurse practitioner at a long-term care facility, councillors in a small eastern Ontario county have voted unanimously to recommend raising the advertised salary for the job by about $50,000.

Lennox & Addington council votes unanimously to recommend pay increase

nurses
Lennox & Addington County, located west of Kingston, Ont., is struggling to hire a nurse practitioner to work at the John M. Parrot Centre for long-term care. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

After months of struggling to hire a nurse practitioner at a long-term care facility, councillors in a small eastern Ontario county have voted unanimously to recommend raising the advertised salary for the job by about $50,000.

That means one successful applicant for the job in Lennox & Addington County, located west of Kingston, Ont., could now get a benefits-included annual salary of about $160,000 to work at the John M. Parrott Centre in Greater Napanee.

The job was initially posted in November 2022, but according to a county report, it was unpopular.

"Unfortunately, we had zero applicants to this posting," reads the report prepared by Angela Malcolm, director of long-term care for Lennox & Addington.

According to the report, the rate of pay initially posted for the job was "$98,589.40 to $115,315.20 per year plus a comprehensive benefit package." 

The wage was fully funded by the Ontario government through its program, committing $57.6 million to hire more nurse practitioners for long-term care.

"We are running ads and we may get one person that expresses that they'd like to come to the interview, but they don't come to the interview. We're getting people that maybe only want 15 hours a week," said Malcolm at the county's council meeting Wednesday night.

Malcolm added that staff are burning out as they're working at a reduced staffing capacity.

"It's very, very challenging."

Now, after the unanimous vote recommending to move this forward for consideration in the 2023 budget process, the county will add its own dollars to the wage.

Initial pay 'quite low': nurse feedback

Malcolm said after the posting was initially made, she received feedback from a number of nurses who described the initial pay as "quite low," and "felt that they weren't being compensated fairly."

Federal data last updated in November 2022 suggests the median nurse practitioner salary in Ontario was just under $57 an hour and the high end was $65 an hour. Per year, for the 1,820 hours of work the county is looking for, that's $103,594 to $118,000.

Nationally, it's a median of $54.01; $98,298.20 for a year of work.

The newly increased pay will now help attract and recruit a candidate, according to Malcolm, who noted that this move is in accordance with a county policy that allows for compensation above the average job rate "for special purposes." 

"We do know that a number of physicians in this area are retiring," said Malcolm.

She added that this puts "significant strain" on the medical director, who is also the primary care physician for a majority of residents at the facility. 

"We do need to do something," said Malcolm, who described the increased pay as a creative approach to attract a qualified candidate.

Malcolm said the county is looking to fill the position as soon as possible.

Corrections

  • A previous version of this story said the county voted unanimously to raise the advertised salary for the job by about $50,000. In fact, it unanimously approved the recommendation to move this forward for consideration in the 2023 budget process.
    Jan 12, 2023 10:35 AM ET

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Avanthika Anand is a reporter with CBC Ottawa. She was previously a news and feature writer at Future of Good. You can reach her by email avanthika.anand@cbc.ca.

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