Group says some staffing firms gouging Ontario long-term care homes


A group is accusing some staffing firms of gouging nonprofit long-term care homes in Ontario, Canada, and it’s asking the government to step in with restrictions on hourly rates for temporary staff.

“Our members are spending tens of millions of dollars on temporary staff rather than permanent care,” said Lisa Levin, CEO of AdvantAge Ontario, an organization that represents not-for-profit, municipally owned and charitable homes. “This is a problem, and it’s getting worse. We need government to push out the bad operators who are preying on homes in the midst of a staffing crisis.”

In some cases, long-term care homes are being charged C$88 per hour for a temporary registered nurse, which is more than twice their typical wage of C$43 per hour, according to AdvantAge Ontario. In one case, a staffing firm charged C$150 per hour for a registered nurse, according to the organization.

In addition to wages, some homes are also paying agency service fees of up to 35% as premiums for short-notice staff and travel costs, it said. And rates for homes in rural and northern areas are 30% higher than those in urban areas.

In total, the 100 homes surveyed by AdvantAge Ontario are spending C$6 million per month on temporary staff.

“Temporary staffing agencies are an important part of the health-care system and have been for a long time. Many of them act responsibly,” Levin said. “But some of them do not. Those agencies are taking advantage of a staffing crisis in the sector. If government fails to take action to control exploitative agencies, there will be serious consequences. Vulnerable seniors are already receiving less care as a result, and the situation is getting worse.”