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OPINION – BCNU’s Provincial Bargaining Strategy Conference

Vancouver (BC Nurses Union) – Nurses from across BC are attending BCNU’s two-day provincial bargaining strategy conference to elect nurse representatives to committees that will engage directly with the government in upcoming negotiations.

As part of the process, nurses have been sharing concerns over deteriorating working conditions and brainstorming contract priorities that they want to see brought to the negotiating tables. BCNU President Aman Grewal says nurses are morally distressed with the current state of the health-care system. From emergency room closures to long waitlists, excessive workloads and understaffed long-term care facilities, nurses want to see more done to make health care better.

“We can’t stay quiet when it comes to this health-care crisis,” she says. “The system is under extraordinary pressure, and it is patients, nurses and health-care workers who are paying the price.” BCNU is supportive of the government’s health human resources plan, released last week. However, while some of the plan is already underway, including the hiring of internationally educated nurses, and funding 602 new nurse education seats, Grewal says there are serious gaps when it comes to presenting immediate solutions.

“Addressing workplace culture, hiring more staff to take on non-nursing duties and hiring security officers to protect nurses from violent situations would all improve working conditions for nurses. When you improve working conditions for nurses, you improve patient care outcomes,” she says, adding that it is time the government listens to nurses.

“We expect to be actively involved in any efforts on the part of the province to address the chronic nurse shortage. Nurses have ideas and they have solutions.”

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