NAPE reports dangerously low staffing levels in long-term care homes in Newfoundland

“These workers are worried about themselves, they’re worried about each other, but most of all, they are worried about those in their care.” — Jerry Earle, NAPE President

St. John’s (17 Sept. 2020) — The Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Public Employees (NAPE/NUPGE) is sounding the alarm on staffing issues in the province’s long-term care homes following numerous disturbing reports about unsafe and untenable working conditions from members in recent days.

Unsafe working conditions impact quality of care

“Over the past year, our union has been speaking out and holding demonstrations across the province about our concerns regarding the state of long-term care in this province,” said Jerry Earle, NAPE President. “Constant staffing issues, inability to access leave, forced overtime, and working short [not enought staff] have caused significant stress and strain on our members. They are at a breaking point.”

“These issues are not only creating unsafe working conditions, but they are impacting the level and quality of care that our members can provide to the most vulnerable people in our province,” said Earle. “We have reached a crisis point. Immediate action needs to be taken by the government and the regional health authorities.”

Workers doing everything in their power to warn of dangers

“We have been inundated with calls and messages from front-line staff, particularly in recent weeks, about their concerns and frustrations related to their working environment and the impact it is having on patient care,” said Earle. “Members on worker’s compensation getting calls to come to work, improper staffing complements on duty, pre-booked and excessive overtime, members feeling worn down and afraid to go work out of fear of being mandated to do overtime yet again, concerns about the risk of injury or accidents due to inadequate staffing levels, concerns about burning out, and the list goes on and on.”

Staffing levels must be corrected immediately

“These workers are worried about themselves, they’re worried about each other, but most of all, they are worried about those in their care,” said Earle.

“Our members in long-term care don’t know when they leave for their shift if they will be doing their scheduled 8-hour shifts or if they will be doing 12, 16, or 24 hours,” said Earle. “They can’t keep going like this — it’s not safe, it’s not healthy, and, at times, it can be downright dangerous.”

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The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 390,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. — NUPGE