Lisa Boudreau works as an emergency department nurse at the Chaleaur Regional Hospital in Bathurst, New Brunswick. Lisa has been a nurse for over 33 years and said working conditions began worsening before the pandemic even began. Today, conditions are untenable.

“Right now, you walk into work, you're usually supposed to have, you know, one nurse, four or five patients, and you end up having 8 to 10 patients. It's not humanly possible to continue to work that.”

Nurses from for-profit agencies have been deployed at the Charlotte Regional Hospital to help with the staffing shortage, but Lisa says some agency nurses are not required to speak French, despite working in a bilingual hospital. In a hospital that is “97% French” patients, agency nurses who only speak English must rely on bilingual staff to care for patients.

“It's not fair for the agency nurses and it's not fair for the nurses that are there also,” she said.

Lisa says the number one thing governments and employers can do is retain the nurses currently working in public care. While a retention bonus could keep nurses coming in to work every day, Lisa says stronger nurse-to-patient ratios and an end to forced overtime and 24-hour shifts would greatly improve safe patient care.

"I would like to be able to give the people of New Brunswick the proper care that they deserve,” she said. “We need support staff. “You do not build a house without a foundation. So how can you build a hospital without nurses?”