UNA supports opposition amendment to protect life-saving RN and RPN staffing in long-term care

A government bill could open the door to non-profit employers removing Registered Nurses from long-term care workplaces.

Bill 58, the Freedom to Care Act, would allow non-profit groups to be temporarily exempted from government regulations. UNA is deeply concerned that this could allow the provincial government to remove provisions in the Nursing Home General Regulation that require long-term care centres to have a Registered Nurse or Registered Psychiatric Nurse on duty 24 hours a day.

This is why United Nurses of Alberta supports an amendment being introduced tonight by Edmonton-Castle Downs MLA Nicole Goehring that would block Bill 58 from being used to temporarily suspend the Nursing Homes General Regulation.

“The removal of this provision, even on a temporary basis, could have severe consequences for the safety of residents living in long-term care centres,” said UNA President Heather Smith. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has proven that long-term care centres in Alberta require enforced, minimum standards, and that not ensuring proper staffing levels can have deadly consequences.

“With their advanced education, skill sets and judgement, RNs or RPNs should be present in all health care settings,” said Smith. “Nurses are a critical part of the health care team in long-term care workplaces."

The recently released final report of the Facility-based Continuing Care Review called for an increase of professional services, including RNs, and stated that "all sites provided a lower level of RN or RPN hours than funded for.

“The minimum hours of care required in the Nursing Home regulations are not red tape - it is life-saving care,” Smith said.