Silas: New deals must be quickly followed by action to address the dire shortage of nurses and protect patient care
February 7, 2023 (Ottawa, ON) – Canada’s nurses welcomed the proposal from the federal government to increase the Canada Health Transfer and establish bilateral agreements with the provinces and territories, but warned new funding must be backed by both real accountability and quick action to address the dire shortages of nurses plaguing health care across the country.
“After years of underfunding and grueling working conditions pushing nurses out of the profession, increased funding is welcome. But fixing the health crisis starts with concrete action to fix nursing shortages,” said Linda Silas, president of the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions (CFNU). “Supporting our health care workers must be the priority in negotiating bilateral agreements with the provinces and territories. Make no mistake, every day without action on health worker shortages is another day that patient safety is in jeopardy.”
In the face of overcrowded hospitals, backlogs, closures and wait times leading to tragic results across the country, Canada’s nurses have been proposing proven measures to improve working conditions, address shortages of nurses and other workers, and better protect patient care.
“Canada’s nurses have proposed targeted funding to implement proven solutions to retain nurses in our public system and return nurses who left in the face of appalling conditions, alongside action on a broader health human resources strategy, safe staffing, supportive work environments and better mental health supports,” explained Silas. “The key is investing in these solutions, backed by firm timelines, transparency and accountability.”
Silas added that while Canada’s nurses are encouraged to see the federal government’s emphasis on reporting progress through common indicators, such as the number of new nurses, provinces and territories must be held accountable to deliver on the outcomes needed to improve health care working conditions and ensure patients have access to safe, reliable health care.
Canada’s nurses will continue to be vigilant standing up against anyone trying to use the health care crisis to increase for-profit health care delivery.
“Increasing for-profit care will siphon money out of the public system and put it into the pockets of private investors. And attracting nurses from public hospitals to private clinics will only make nursing shortages even worse,” warned Silas. “Public health care is on life support, but solutions are within reach. Nurses are ready to work with governments and employers to make sure our cherished public health system is there for generations to come.”
The CFNU is Canada’s largest nurses’ organization, representing Canada’s frontline nurses in every sector of health care – from home care, to LTC, community and acute care, including nursing students – and advocating on key health priorities and federal engagement in the future of public health care.
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