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BC Nurses Union President demanding change as escalating work load continues

Nurses across the province are not in a celebratory mood this year during National Nursing Week.

Today (Tuesday), over 300 nurses from all corners of BC are rallying at the Legislature in Victoria to speak out against the chronic shortfalls in our health care system.

President, Aman Grewal told Vista Radio the monumental workload has gotten worse, not better.

“Nurses are overworked. They have large patient loads where one nurse would use to have four patients, they can have six, eight to ten patients just to one nurse now.”

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She added even with the pandemic slowly fading, the workload isn’t getting any lighter.

“The hospitals are still full, they are working short-staffed, surgeries are still taking place, people are still ill and patients are still having heart attacks – you name it, nothing has changed and the staffing shortages are still there.”

“They often don’t get breaks, they don’t get to have meals, and sometimes they aren’t even able to use the washroom for an entire 12-hour shift – a lot of times they don’t have the opportunity to do that.”

To better protect nurses, Grewal would like to see more done to eliminate toxic work environments as well as have more nursing seats open up at UBC.

She said there are currently 800 students on their waitlist to get into the nursing program.

“They only take about 129 I believe per year. That’s close to eight years (waiting list). Increase the number of seats that you have there so that we can get more nurses. By 2031, we need 26,000 new nursing positions.”

82 percent of BCNU members surveyed last year said their mental health has worsened over the pandemic.

Last night (Monday), the BCNU hosted a Vigil to Health Care to give those in the profession a chance to show how overwhelming the last few years have been.

In response, BC Health Minister Adrian Dix issued the following statement:

“National Nursing Week and National Nursing Day provide excellent opportunities for British Columbians and people across the country to acknowledge and recognize the value and importance of all nurses, including registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, registered psychiatric nurses, and nurse practitioners. They are the largest group of care providers in British Columbia, and they play an important part in providing care in our public health system.

“Our government values all that nurses do to protect, promote and support the safety, health, and well-being of people in B.C. The past two years have been especially challenging. The COVID-19 pandemic, the toxic drug crisis, and extreme weather events have called for extraordinary care, and nurses provincewide have consistently answered the call, in service to all British Columbians.

“Government acknowledges the significant toll this has had on the nursing workforce. That’s why we are dedicated to actions that grow, retain and support nurses in the province. On April 19, 2022, the government announced new support for internationally educated nurses. These new supports include the consolidation of the provincially based assessment processes for internationally educated nurse candidates, approximately $9 million in bursaries to help with assessment fees and new nurse navigator positions to guide candidates through the assessment and licensing processes.

“Additionally, on Feb. 20, 2022, the government announced that 602 new nursing seats are being added to public post-secondary institutions throughout the province. We have also worked with community partners to deliver new and expanded mental-health services to support nurses dealing with the burden of responding to increased demands.

“Our government is committed to ensuring nurses have the support they need to continue to care for people provincewide. Through these commitments, we’re not only expanding the future nursing capacity in the province but creating pathways to incredibly rewarding, long-term, and family-supporting careers.

“On behalf of the provincial government, I thank the nurses who provide and continue to provide the best care possible for their patients. And I encourage people everywhere in the province to take a moment this week to recognize what all nurses have done and continue to do for us all.”

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