New Premier needs to work with nurses to fix staffing crisis

United Nurses of Alberta will request an emergency meeting with Danielle Smith as soon as she is sworn-in as the next Premier of Alberta to discuss the nursing shortage crisis and how the government can work with the province’s front line nurses to fix it.

UNA’s priority is to improve workplace conditions for nurses so they can deliver the high-quality patient care that Albertans expect.

The announcement yesterday that the government plans to increase the recruitment of internationally educated nurses and further invest in bridging programs is a start but more action is required. There are solutions and front line health care workers have answers. We need to see urgency and immediate action from this government.

UNA and the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions have proposed these solutions as a start to help fix the nursing shortage:

  • Funding for programs backed by firm timelines and real accountability to keep experienced nurses in their jobs, bring nurses back to the public sector, and recruit nurses where they are needed most.
  • Lowering nurse-patient ratios, addressing workloads and improving care, increasing investments in more nursing seats in colleges and universities, bridging programs and new mentorship initiatives, supporting internationally educated nurses, and creating attractive full-time nurse positions.
  • Providing immediate and ongoing support for nurses’ mental health programs.

The shortage of nurses is negatively impacting patient care in hospitals and health care centres across Alberta. 

Dramatically long wait-times in the emergency rooms at the Alberta Children’s Hospital in Calgary, the Stollery Children’s Hospital in Edmonton and the Red Deer Regional Hospital, and service closures at hospitals in Airdrie, Bassano, Boyle, Consort, Fort Saskatchewan, Peace River, Ponoka, Rimbey, Rocky Mountain House, Stettler, Sundre, and Westlock have recently made news headlines. The Alberta Health Services website currently lists temporary service reductions at 31 hospitals and health care centres across the province.

This crisis will be exacerbated by throwing Alberta's health care system into further chaos through a massive reorganization for which the premier has no democratic mandate. And the privatization initiatives pursued by the Kenney government will only make the nursing shortage worse by pulling nurses out of the public health care system into profit-driven surgical corporations.

UNA looks forward to meeting with Premier Smith and the Minister of Health to discuss solutions to help fix the nursing crisis and improve patient care for Albertans.