"The employer seems to have no problem paying premium rates — plus travel and accommodation — to bring in staff from outside of Nova Scotia, but they nickel and dime their own hard-working employees." — Jason MacLean, NSGEU President
Halifax (17 April 2019) — As the Minister of Health and Wellness and the Nova Scotia Health Authority (NSHA) continue to deny that there is a nursing shortage in our province, they are bringing in 'travel nurses' more than ever before. Travel nurses are those workers from outside Nova Scotia whoo are not NSHA employees, or who are not necessarily residents of this province. In fact, the number of hours being filled by these travel nurses has increased 45 per cent between 2017 and February 2019.
45 per cent increase in use of travel nurses
"The fact that Minister Delorey and the employer continue to deny there is a nursing staffing shortage while increasingly relying upon these 'travel nurses' is just outrageous," said NSGEU President Jason MacLean.
"Where is the long-term strategy for filling the gaps in our health care system?"
It is important to note that the data for 2019 is not yet complete (the fiscal year ends April 1), and therefore this data does not reflect the increased staffing needs that have resulted from the NSHA's new interpretation of staff nurses' overtime language in their collective agreement.
Data clearly shows nurses shortage
In their own interpretation of the data supplied, the NSHA admits there is a shortage of nurses:
- Care Core staffing is mainly used to replace short-term absences of NSHA staff that occur after posting of department schedules, typically within 2 weeks of the shift occurring (this means there are not enough nurses to cover shortages or nurses are not willing to work overtime at straight time).
- Options for NSHA casual and part-time staff who are willing to work extra shifts are exhausted prior to Care Core staff being assigned (read: there are not enough staff nurses).
- Increased orthopedic procedures to reduce surgical wait times, consistently high occupancy rates on inpatient medical units, and challenges filling vacant temporary and permanent positions have contributed to increased demand for staffing and replacement (again, it's clear, there aren't enough staff nurses).
Government throwing away money, ignoring real problem
It's time for Minister Delorey and the NSHA to get serious and address the issues facing frontline healthcare workers.
"The employer seems to have no problem paying premium rates — plus travel and accommodation — to bring in staff from outside of Nova Scotia, but they nickel and dime their own hard-working employees," said MacLean.
"It's time to start working with their own frontline workers to address the shortfalls of the system, and stop throwing Nova Scotians' money away."
Click here to view the data obtained via FOIPOP.
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