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Nursing Week 2024 Press Release - Lack of funding for community health centres leads to Centretown Community Health Centre registered nurses being underpaid and taking second jobs to make ends meet

National Nursing Week is May 6-12, but low funding to Centretown Community Health Centre and the salaries of registered nurses falling further and further behind is nothing to celebrate.

May 6, 2024 (Ottawa) — Registered nurses (RNs) at Centretown Community Health Centre (CCHC) serve residents facing some of the highest barriers by providing care to newcomers, isolated seniors and people who are homeless. CCHC’s RNs have a tremendous scope of work, from primary care, to prenatal care, to addiction, to mental health and more. 

By providing care in a clinic, in people’s homes and out in the community, CCHC RNs save the system money by reducing hospital visits. In fact, community health centre clients across Ontario have primary care needs 67% greater than the average Ontarian, but use the emergency department 21% less than expected (source).

Despite their highly skilled work, registered nurses at CCHC are underpaid compared to RNs working in hospitals. The recent 11% pay increase was for registered nurses in hospitals only. Not other healthcare settings. 

During the past 27 years, community health centres in Ontario have only had 7% base budget increases. While the inflationary rates during that time totalled 90.76% (source).

The salary range for community health centre registered nurses: is $65,285 to $78,657 while the salary range for hospital registered nurses is $71,108 to 101,920 (source).

“The tiny budget increases to community health centres during the past 27 years mean that community health centres cannot pay staff more without cutting staff and care,” said Michelle Hurtubise, executive director, Centretown Community Health Centre. “During Nursing Week we’re calling upon the provincial government to equitably pay registered nurses in line with their counterparts in other settings.” 

Being underpaid is forcing CCHC RNs working full-time to get second jobs or leave to find nursing jobs in other healthcare settings. 13 of 20 RNs at Centretown CHC have second jobs. Many of their partners have to pick up extra shifts to make ends meet. Additionally, some registered nurses have left CCHC because their salary was not enough to make ends meet and pay bills. One registered nurse left and moved to another province because they could no longer afford housing in Ottawa, even working full-time at CCHC.

Community-based care will suffer as registered nurses are forced to leave for higher-paying jobs. This will increase emergency department visits, which are considerably more expensive to the system than care from a community health centre registered nurse. The cost of a Centretown CHC RN visit is $54/hour (including benefits) while the average cost of an emergency department visit is $323 (source).

All registered nurses in Ontario, including nurses at community health centres, must have equal pay. This means we’re asking the province to allocate $393,895 to bring Centretown Community Health Centre’s registered nurses’ salaries in Ontario in line with their peers working in other settings.

Available for interview

Registered nurses on our team, in English and French.

About Centretown Community Health Centre

Centretown Community Health Centre is an urban not-for-profit organization providing healthcare for all. We provide a full range of quality health and social services to families and individuals who live or work in the communities we serve. We pay particular attention to groups facing barriers, including the senior population, the 2SLGBTQIA+ community, those affected by mental illness and addictions, people who are homeless and newcomers to Canada. Visit  

Media contact

Heather Badenoch, Village PR, 613-859-8232,



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