Thursday June 8, 2017 (CALGARY) – A new report from the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions (CFNU) shows that nurses’ paid and unpaid overtime has continued to take a toll on the health and well-being of the country’s nurses and on patient care. The total cost of nurses’ overtime and nursing absenteeism rose to close to $2 billion in 2016.
The report, released today at the CFNU Biennial Convention, is an urgent call for an effective health human resources plan that supports safe nurse staffing levels.
“Nurses and policy-makers know that excessive overtime is eroding the safe, quality care of our patients,” said CFNU President Linda Silas. “Our patients deserve the best nursing care, and to provide that care, nurses cannot be stretched to unhealthy limits.”
The CFNU-commissioned report, prepared by Jacobson Consulting Inc., calls for safe nurse staffing levels across the country. It found that in 2016 aggregated paid and unpaid overtime of public sector health care RNs and nurse supervisors totaled 20.1 million hours; Silas notes that this is the equivalent of 11,100 full-time nursing positions.
“The research found that in 2016, on average, 24,600 of Canada’s 282,300 public sector health care RNs and nurse supervisors – or 8.7% – were absent each week due to illness or disability,” said Silas. “In 2014, the rate was 7.9%. The 9% absentee rate for full-time public sector health care nurses was substantially higher than the average of all other occupations, which was 5.7%.
“Public health care employers paid $989 million in 2016 in illness- or disability-related absenteeism costs; the total cost of unpaid and paid nursing overtime was an additional $968 million,” notes Silas. “Safe nurse staffing levels would reduce the system’s reliance on both paid and unpaid overtime for nurses, and would help to reduce absenteeism. At a time when we are all striving for an efficient, cost-effective and sustainable health care system, we know that ensuring safe nurse staffing levels would go a long way towards achieving that goal.”
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The Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions (CFNU) is Canada’s largest nurses’ organization representing nearly 200,000 nurses and student nurses. The CFNU has been advocating for national discussions on key health priorities, such as a national prescription drug plan, a comprehensive approach to long-term and continuing care, greater attention to health human resources, and federal government engagement on the future of public health care.
For more information, please contact:
Emily Doer, Communications Officer, Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions, (613) 807-1340
David Cournoyer, Communications Advisor, United Nurses of Alberta, (780) 913-1563
David Climenhaga, Communications Advisor, United Nurses of Alberta, (780) 717-2943