UNITY - Gathering in solidarity, Unity nurses met briefly in Memorial Park the evening of Sept. 15 to put their faces and support behind the national rally occurring Sept. 17, “We’re Done Asking.”
This team of nurses, along with supportive health care workers, are presenting a united front through a media rally asking for change.
Staffing, safety and healthy work as well as fairness and respect are some of the major areas nurses across Canada are advocating for.
According to nursing representatives, Canada is facing a critical nursing shortage with nurses being overworked, underpaid and burned out, yet many are unable to take time off due to lack of staff. These problems aren’t just experienced in bigger centres.
The Canadian Federation of Nurses Union reports:
• In the first quarter of 2021, Statistics Canada reported the number of vacancies in health care and social assistance stood at about 100,000; RNs and RPNs had the highest year over year increase in vacancies, with almost half of these vacancies remaining open for 90 days or more;
• Canadian nurses average weekly overtime hours increased by 78 per cent during the pandemic from May 2019 to May 2020;
• 60 per cent of nurses said they intended to leave their jobs within the next year, and more than 25 per cent of these nurses wanted to leave the profession altogether;
• 63 per cent of nurses have experienced burnout, with 83 per cent indicating that the regular core health staffing was insufficient to meet the needs of patients, residents or clients; and
• In Saskatchewan, there has been a 4,539 per cent increase in health care worker overtime hours from 2020 to 2021, reported by SHA.
The theme of these rallies and media campaigns is “We’re done asking.” Unfortunately, due to the spike in COVID-19 cases in our communities, nurses had to make a last-minute shift to a media rally as opposed to an in-person rally.
Tennio Kraft, RN, says, “This rally is not about COVID-19, masks, vaccines or many of the other topics that have polarized the media, public and has no political party preference. This is to raise awareness about the crisis we were facing before the pandemic, that has only worsened since the pandemic. As well as to ask our policy makers, whomever they might be, to listen and advocate for change.”
The CNFU has stated that this is not only limited to nurses but other supportive health care worker roles as well.
Nurses say they are emotionally and physically exhausted, compounded this last year and half with the pandemic’s arrival.
“Obviously, these statistics and my own personal experience as an RN inspired me to organize the local chapter for this rally. Acute care, emergency nurses, public health nurses, home care nurses, long-term care nurses and special care aides from Unity and other local communities are joining forces to drive this message home,” says Kraft
Rural communities are closing or have closed their emergency service due to lack of staff. This affects the level of care provided to patients, as well as the mental health and well being of staff, advocates say.The CFNU Frontline United website has some great information about this rally. To read more about it, visit: https://www.frontlineunited.ca