Nurses Unions call for end to cuts to nursing hours and retention of Canada's 2013-2014 nursing graduates
VANCOUVER, Jan. 23, 2014
VANCOUVER, Jan. 23, 2014 /CNW/ - During the opening of the Canadian
Nursing Students' Association AGM, the Canadian Federation of Nurses
Unions (CFNU)'s President, Linda Silas, called for governments to
shelve workforce redesigns that are reducing nursing hours and to
secure the employment of all new nurses to ensure the long-term
sustainability of our health care system. "Evidence-based long-term
human resource planning must guide governments," says Silas. Added
Silas, "Unfortunately, governments are making drastic changes to health
care delivery without evidence to support those changes. We hear many
anecdotal stories that graduating nurses are not getting jobs yet the
average age of nurses is creeping up. It's time for governments to plan
for the future, not repeat the mistakes of the past. In the 1990s,
lack of health care planning led to a net loss of nurses to other
countries or professions."
In most areas of the country there are no published nursing workforce
projections. We know the number of nurses approaching retirement is
increasing: 11.3 per cent of nurses are over the age of 60. This group
is growing faster than the proportion of nurses under 30. More than
10,000 new nurses graduated in each of the past three years but many
were unable to find employment. In 2011-2012, only 1,083 RNs were
added to the workforce.
In 2003, Dr. Linda O'Brien-Pallas raised the alarm projecting that with
nearly one third of RNs over the age of 50, many would retire over the
next 10-15 years. Following her report, many provinces developed
targeted initiatives aimed at new nursing graduates but most have now
been reduced or eliminated.
Today, more than a decade after Dr. O'Brien-Pallas' report, Canada has a
significant bulge of nurses on the cusp of retirement. Despite this
imminent shortage, knee-jerk reactions focused on cost-cutting, rather
than evidence-based planning, are driving provincial governments to cut
the budgets of health care employers in order to "redesign the
workforce", a euphemism for cutting nursing positions.
"This is not how to manage a 200 billion dollar social program that
Canadians count on everyday," says Silas. "This is not how we should
plan to provide nursing care for patients over the next 5 - 10 years.
We need better data and better forecasting." Canada's nurses unions
call on the federal government to adequately fund the Canadian
Institute for Health Information (CIHI) so that it can make health
human resources projections for the future of our health care needs
within all sectors: acute care, community, home care and long term
Until clear, evidence-based projections are developed, Canada's nurses
unions are calling on all governments to provide new graduate
initiatives to secure the retention of Canada's 2013 grads with the
same strategy for the 2014 classes. Recent public inquiries into
increased mortality rates in the UK's National Health Service point to
the perils of workforce redesign that does not put patients first -
Canada is risking the same perils if we do not act.
The Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions (CFNU) represents close to
200,000 nurses and student nurses. Our members work in hospitals,
long-term care facilities, community health care, and our homes. The
CFNU speaks to all levels of government, other health care stakeholders
and the public about evidence-based policy options to improve patient
care, working conditions and our public health care system.