A Statement by UNA President Heather Smith: On National Nurses Week 2022, Alberta and Canada need more nurses

A Statement by UNA President Heather Smith: On National Nurses Week 2022, Alberta and Canada need more nurses

This is National Nurses Week 2022, and Alberta and Canada need nurses more than ever. 

Our province and our country need more nurses than ever too. 

Traditionally National Nurses Week, which runs from May 9 to May 15 this year, is a time to celebrate the work of nurses everywhere. The theme this year is #WeAnswerTheCall. 

But nurses have always answered the call. Since 2020, through 2021, and now well into 2022 as the COVID-19 pandemic has held Canada and all the nations of the world in its grip, nurses have gone above and beyond that call of duty. 

Nurses are overworked and exhausted. Some are leaving the profession. Many more are considering it.

The shortage of qualified nurses that Canada already faced before the pandemic has become critical. Emergency Rooms and many wards in hospitals throughout Alberta are stretched beyond safe limits. Too many nurses are being asked to work too much overtime to keep the health care system functioning. Rural hospitals throughout Alberta are being forced to close beds and shut down services because staff can’t be found to keep them open.

Lineups at some hospitals are so long that it can take several hours just to triage patients, and many more hours to see a physician. 

This is a real crisis. It requires real action. Action that can’t wait. 

The government’s plan to privatize surgical services won’t help. The fundamental issue is a shortage of qualified nurses and other medical professionals. 

United Nurses of Alberta’s 30,000 members, most of whom are Registered Nurses and Registered Psychiatric Nurses, have made it clear that our provincial government must start by acknowledging that there is a crisis. From there, the government needs to take measures to retain nurses still in the profession and recruit and educate new ones. 

We all now must add our voices to this urgent message.

The United Nations declared 2020 to be the Year of the Nurse, marking the birth of Florence Nightingale on May 12, 1820.

It’s as if the Year of the Nurse is now in its third year! Alberta’s nurses are still answering the call. 

It’s time for the Alberta government to recognize this, and to acknowledge it in ways that have real meaning. The first and most important way is to take practical, concrete steps to end the nursing crisis in Alberta. 

  • Heather Smith, President, United Nurses of Alberta

Listen to UNA's Nurses' Week radio ad:

On Saturday, May 14, take action in a community near you to support Alberta’s nurses and public health care: 

South Health Campus – U of C Hospital, Seton Hall off of Front Street, south side main entrance
1:00 PM
Facebook Event: https://fb.me/e/1Kyou51HW

Alberta Legislature Building
1:00 PM
Facebook Event: https://fb.me/e/eljMCltXs

City Hall
12:00 PM (NOON)
Facebook Event: https://fb.me/e/1AIMTlGmk

Medicine Hat
Regional Hospital, 5th Street Side
11:00 AM
Facebook Event: https://fb.me/e/1vVAHKfyo

Red Deer
City Hall
1:00 PM
Facebook Event: https://fb.me/e/1Pb0TpJmS