Union leaders are speaking out because healthcare workers, including LPNs, RCWs and RNs are being denied their vacation requests. It is unacceptable that nursing professionals are being denied their much-needed and well-earned vacation.
I have heard from many staff at different facilities who have been denied their vacation. They are frustrated and rightfully so. Nurses have held our healthcare system together and they are carrying a massive burden with no end in sight. They are exhausted.
For two years, Premier King and Minister of Health Ernie Hudson have praised healthcare workers for their work on the frontline of this pandemic. Praise isn’t enough. They need time off to rest and relax, to spend time with loved ones and to take care of themselves but the King government continues to say no to their health needs. PEI’s healthcare worker shortage is not going away and denying nurses vacation is only going to make the rate of burnout so much worse.
What has been attempted to fill these positions? The PEI Nurses’ Union has asked for all unfilled shifts to be released for overtime right now. The current collective agreement requires the shifts to be released 48 hours in advance but there is nothing stopping Health PEI from releasing the shifts months in advance – except Minister Hudson approving the money. These shifts are offered to travel nurses months in advance. Give Island nurses the same respect. Stop treating Island nurses like second-class citizens.
What incentives have been offered to administrative nurses, middle management nurses or retired nurses to pick up these unfilled shifts? Are there any obstacles preventing them from doing so to get through this crisis? If so, remove the barriers.
Premier King has said that we need to think outside the box, so I am calling on the Premier to do just that. Show Island healthcare workers that you have exhausted every other possibility before you tell them no. Then tell Islanders how you are going to address the growing retention issues and sick leave that this decision is going to cause.
Nurses need more than praise. They need immediate and long-term solutions.
I am demanding at the bare minimum, that government open all vacant shifts for overtime. I am calling for the requests of union leaders like the PEI Nurses’ Union and UPSE to be heard and implemented. I am calling for a fast tracking of qualifications for new Islanders and new Canadians. I am calling for the scope of practice be expanded for allied healthcare professionals (ie. pharmacists).
We are headed for a collapse of our healthcare system and I will not stand idly by to watch this Minister and this Premier abandon our nurses and the health of every person who calls this Island home.
Michele Beaton, MLA Mermaid – Stratford
Official Opposition Green Caucus Critic for Health and Wellness