MICHELE BEATON: Another example of how the King government is consistently late and always unprepared

For three years the Official Opposition Green caucus has been listening to unions and all healthcare workers. We have been calling for improved retention initiatives like the one announced yesterday, along with others, that can help fix healthcare workplaces.

However, the announcement by Premier King just scratches the surface of the issue and it fails to address the root problems for retention. These are problems I have raised with the Minister who refused to acknowledge or accept the seriousness of the situation frontline workers face every day like being refused vacation, or preventing frontline workers from speaking openly about concerns in the workplace, or interfering in the hiring of staff, or any number of issues facing health workers.

In fact the announcement does not even address the issues identified in the Health PEI Exit Interview Project report that show a big part of our retention problem is a toxic and unsafe workplace environment. Throwing money at the issue but not dealing with the underlying problems is only adding to the further decline of our system.

 

This announcement also fails to recognize or provide the same reward for the many other frontline workers like respiratory therapists, medical radiation technologists, lab technicians and service and support workers. These workers are also crucial to the success of our healthcare system. Why does this government fail to see their value?

In fact, the announcement lacked any details whatsoever about how this will be rolled out, what the terms of the return for service agreement will include, whether it will be paid at the front or back end of the agreement, if it will be a top up on worker’s regular pay, how will it affect their seniority, pension, etc. Even union leaders present said they have no details which makes me think they were not fully involved in the development of this retention initiative. Other unions representing healthcare workers were left out altogether. This is not how you fix healthcare retention issues.

These failures are just more examples of how the King government is consistently late and always unprepared. Premier King needs to stop kicking the solutions to our retention struggles down the road. His government needs to address systemic workplace issues such as excessive workloads, workplace violence, and the effectiveness of the healthcare system for both patients and workers.

Yesterday, we saw an announcement for a temporary short term fix, but we need more. Islanders need a vision for healthcare that extends beyond election cycles. It’s time for the King government to stop with the band-aid solutions and start investing and fixing the root problems.