The president of the Saskatchewan Union of Nurses (SUN) says her membership, particularly those in their mid to late careers, are being “ignored” by the health budget released Wednesday.
“The fact that the healthcare system is collapsing around our ears, has collapsed in some instances, has been ignored,” Tracy Zambory told CTV News.
Hospitals are spread so thin that they’re having to turn people away because there’s no staff to care for patients, she says, including a recent incident where Regina General had to bypass to Pasqua Hospital, and another at the Yorkton ICU.
“We were in such dire straits that the ICU in Yorkton had to go on bypass because there are not enough registered nurses … It’s shocking that there could be such tone deafness and what’s actually going on in health care in this province,” she said.
The province is hanging its hat on recruitment and ignoring the retention side of the puzzle, Zambory says.
At the operating room of Regina General Hospital, she says SUN just found out there are 13 nursing vacancies.
“How are we going to manage, you know, catching up with all of the surgical waitlists that we have on or hands,” she said. “We need to start talking to people and saying, ‘why are you leaving?’”
Zambory says some of the nursing initiatives in the budget like the money for a travel pool were not even something nurses asked for.
“We are in trouble and nothing in this budget is going to change things for registered nurses and the government has done so at their own peril by ignoring all of the conversations that we’ve had,” she said. “We did not discuss a travel nurse pool … there was no discussion with registered nurses or the union on how that would work, if it actually is doable.”
If the Sask. Party was serious about dealing with the 900 current registered nurse vacancies, they would have used some of the $1 billion surplus to work with SUN directly through a task force, says Zambory.