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Nurses from across Canada gather in Charlottetown, raise awareness for ongoing staffing crisis

Over 1,000 nurses from across the country gather in Charlottetown this week to raise awareness of the ongoing staffing challenges in the healthcare industry.

“We don’t want to talk about nurses that are burnt out. We know that,” said Linda Silas, President of the Canadian Federation of Nurses’ Unions. “We need to fix the workplace. As I often say, ‘nurses’ love nursing, but they hate their job,’ and it is killing them.”

Silas points to ongoing staffing shortages as one of the leading causes.

Prince Edward Island has among the highest nurse vacancy rates in the country.

Barbara Brookins, Prince Edward Island Nurses Unions President said 24 per cent of RN and nurse practitioner positions are vacant, which adds up to nearly 300 empty jobs.

“Burnout is high, and the frustration is even higher, because it’s not getting any better,” said Brookins. “Any of the solutions, or Band-Aid solutions, that are going in place right now are not making a difference.”

Brookins said some nurses have stepped out of permanent roles to have more flexibility in their schedules, which compounds the broader staffing shortages.

Silas said there are many reasons why nurses cannot be recruited or retained.

“Sometimes it’s housing. Sometimes it’s a bigger salary,” said Silas. “Sometimes it’s saying I need every second weekend off, or every weekend off because I have young children.”

But that’s not all, there’s a more sinister problem festering below the surface.

“One thing that gets pushed aside when you start talking about shortages is the violence that some of us are experiencing in our workplaces,” said Brookins. “It’s been talked about for years but really nothing has been moving on that.”

Brookins said it’s not acceptable and they’re working to raise awareness of workplace violence for nurses and the public.

Right now with the conference attendees in P.E.I., there are about twice as many nurses as there normally are in the province.

The conference wraps up Friday with a major demonstration in downtown Charlottetown.

For more P.E.I. news, visit our dedicated provincial page. Top Stories

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