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‘Gimme the loot’ Instagram ad for travel nurses draws ire of NDP

Daily Leg Update: “Gimme the loot” Instagram video for TravelNurse proves controversial; Vicki Mowat says she was shocked by the ad.
A TravelNurse promotional ad on Instagram drew the ire of NDP Health Critic Vicki Mowat in the Legislature on Tuesday.

REGINA - In the final week of the Legislature sitting, a controversial Instagram post to recruit travel nurses to Saskatchewan has raised concerns from opposition New Democrats.

It was a promotional video that purports to be from a company called, a private company that places travel nurses in jobs across the country including in Saskatchewan. The video in question depicts a man in a canola field firing a gun that releases dollar bills into the sky, while the song Gimme the Loot by Notorious B.I.G. is played. 

The headline of the Instagram post is: “Point of view: you just finished your Saskatchewan contract, making $92 per hour.”

That ad raised the ire of the NDP, who have been repeatedly critical of Saskatchewan public money being spent on private companies involved in placing contract nurses. In a statement Tuesday, the party pointed to TravelNurse being a division of Solutions Staffing Inc. which has been paid $6.2 million since 2019 as per the SHA.

Opposition critics have being arguing that the money is better spent on keeping permanent nurses at home.

“Mr. Speaker, this ad sends exactly the wrong message to the nurses that we still have left in this province,” said Health Critic Vicki Mowat in Question Period. “And let’s remember whose cash is shooting out of that money gun — tax dollars by Saskatchewan people. This tired and out-of-touch government has lost the plot when it comes to health care, and their non-stop privatization is only making things worse.”

Mowat asked the government what message this sent to “Saskatchewan nurses who are burning out whilst contract nurses are cashing in”. 

In response, Health Minister Everett Hindley emphasized that “contract nurses are not something that the government or the SHA intends to rely on unless necessary to fill vacancies, to provide for instances where nurses need to take vacation or sick time, Mr. Speaker.”

When speaking to reporters after Question Period, Mowat said she was “shocked” by the video.

“I think the first reaction is concern. These are taxpayer dollars we are talking about, and you know the reference to a money gun is a party reference or celebration reference, that it’s raining money. It’s certainly concerning to see that that is how this is being perceived by the companies that are providing travel nurses. It raises alarm bells about how the public money is being spent. We’ve asked a number of questions over the last year around travel nurses, what the total costs are. There has been a lack of transparency on this file. The government committed last year in committee to getting us the amount of travel nurses or the companies that were providing travel nurses, and we didn’t end up getting that until this year in committee. So we’ve only been able to start doing the math as of when we had estimates at committee this year, and it is incredibly alarming to know the amount that are being provided to the nurses, but also to know that that doesn’t include the overhead the companies are receiving.”

When asked by reporters about the Instagram video, Hindley said he only saw it that morning. He called it "disappointing," and said his ministry officials would reach out and “try and find out where this comes from.”

When asked if the ad should be pulled, Hindley said this: 

“It’s not a very good ad. It’s not reflective of what the message we would want to be sending when it comes to health care recruitment and retention here in Saskatchewan… We take this very seriously, the fact that we’re trying to build the best healthcare system we possibly can and that includes making sure that we have staff to operationalize our facilities.”

As for the permanent nursing positions in the province, Hindley reiterated to reporters they were “working hard to fill the vacancies we have.”

“Do we want to be relying on contract or travel nurses? No. But in some cases like other provinces, they are necessary. We need to use them from time to time to be able to reduce disruptions, but again, working very closely with our partners at the SHA, the Sask Health Recruitment Agency and everywhere else to make sure that we’re trying, with the ultimate goal, of trying to fill positions and hire permanent full-time nurses. Casuals play a role in that as well, but we want to reduce our overall reliance on travel nurses."