BC Nurses Union President Aman Grewal is urging all levels of government to develop a plan to address the health care worker crisis not only in the province but across Canada.
She will be addressing provincial leaders during the two-day Premiers Meeting in Victoria.
Grewal told Vista Radio we’re already seeing the health care sector come apart at the seams due to staffing shortages, which is leading to the closure of emergency rooms, putting many patients in a bind.
“You know, it’s an emergency department and you are in crisis and you are having to travel. That’s not safe for somebody who is not feeling well to be travelling in order to get care.”
“We are seeing ER’s closing, we are seeing maternity units closing and reduced hours. Some of these facilities are having temporary or permanent closures in their ER department.”
In May, emergency rooms in Clearwater, Port McNeill, and Chetwynd closed for 12-hour periods because there wasn’t enough staff.
Grewal added Port Alberni’s West Coast General Hospital could face disruptions in August and September while Merritt’s ER temporarily closed for a 24-hour period this month.
In addition, she mentioned while staffing shortages remain top of mind, fixing toxic work environments is also key.
“We need to improve the workplace environment, increase safety and violence prevention measures and also some repair and acknowledgment of the current toxic environment in the workplace.”
While nursing shortages are bad everywhere, they are of great concern in the north, with no concrete solutions in place.
“There are not enough nurses graduating that are from that area or that want to work in that area. More incentives are needed to get more nurses to the north.”
“What we need is the premiers from all of Canada to listen to the nurses and to bring us to the table to bring solutions and to develop a national health human resources strategy to improve health care in BC and in Canada,” added Grewal.
She is in support of BC Premier John Horgan’s plea to increase Ottawa’s share of health care costs from 22 percent to 35 percent of the total.