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LETTER: Government is devaluing registered nurses

Editor: As a registered nurse working on Alberta’s healthcare frontline, I find the UCP government’s attempt to reduce Alberta’s registered nurses’ wages by 3 per cent to help balance provincial finances deeply disappointing and tremendously

Editor:

As a registered nurse working on Alberta’s healthcare frontline, I find the UCP government’s attempt to reduce Alberta’s registered nurses’ wages by three per cent to help balance provincial finances deeply disappointing and tremendously demoralizing.

RN’s are highly skilled, university educated individuals. We work extremely hard to deliver high quality patient and family centered care. We care deeply about Albertans and the quality care that we provide 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year.

Albertans expect when they are ill and require medical care, they will have access to care and not have to worry if emergency departments or hospital beds are closed due to an increasing shortage of nurses. Patient safety is compromised when nurses’ workloads are increased and when nurses experience burnout due to lack of nurses.

Reducing RN’s compensation and removing RN positions is not the answer to balancing a provincial budget. It will simply escalate the ongoing nurse shortage and further threaten Alberta’s healthcare system.

RN’s in Alberta are not over paid for the work we do. With cost of living increasing every year and inflation is on the rise, the UCP’s expected decrease in nurses’ compensation will exceed the rollback the UCP is currently demanding. Devaluing nurses, the work we do and the care we provide, will lead to nurses leaving the profession and the province. In turn, it will continue to erode Alberta’s healthcare system.

Premier Jason Kenney said on July 12 the province will reallocate saved dollars directly to patient care. I ask you, “How will you provide quality patient care if there are not enough nurses available to provide that care?”

The UCP proposes taking money away from nurses to invest elsewhere in healthcare. This is nothing more than moving money from one pocket to another. It will not balance finances. Albertans will not be misled.

The UCP government’s rollback plan is endangering Alberta’s healthcare system. Alberta needs to recruit and retain nurses. The government needs to recognize there is already a nurse shortage. We need more nurses, not fewer, and we cannot afford to drive nurses out of the province or away from the profession.

Other provinces are respectfully negotiating with their registered nurses. Saskatchewan has negotiated a forward looking agreement with their RNs, which includes annual wage increases and will make Saskatchewan nurses better paid than Alberta RNs.

By undervaluing registered nurses, Albertans need to be very concerned. The damage that will be done to Alberta’s healthcare system will take decades to heal.

Marguerite Duncan,

Calgary