Fredericton (August 28, 2020) – Within the first 30 days of taking office, a Kevin Vickers led Liberal government will begin to negotiate a contract with nurses that is fair, respectful and ensures workplace safety.
“Health care is a priority for New Brunswickers and myself,” said Vickers. “We recognize that RNs are a vital part of our health care system. Blaine Higgs failed to acknowledge their indispensable contribution and left them without an employment contract for almost two years.”
In order to stem the outflow of nursing graduates from the province, A Liberal government will also look to make salaries competitive.
“We have 20 per cent of our nursing graduates immediately leaving the province to work elsewhere,” Liberal Leader Kevin Vickers said. “Couple that with the fact that 3400 nurses in New Brunswick, or 41 per cent of the workforce, will be eligible to retire in the next five years, we are looking at a human resources crisis that could bring our health care system to its knees. We can’t let that happen.”
The nurse shortage has already led to some cutbacks in services by health authorities in the province, with each health authority struggling to fill vacancies and service suffering as a result.
Vickers said a Liberal government will also look at working conditions for nurses, particularly safety and security when on the job.
“That’s been a primary concern raised with the Higgs government and it hasn’t been addressed,” Vickers said. “Our nurses work on the front-lines of the health care system and the courage and dedication they have shown during this pandemic is second to none. They have enough to worry about and getting beaten up should not be something they are worried about. But it’s become a major issue. We will work together with our nurses and health authorities to address it. We won’t cut corners and costs when it comes to nurse safety.
In order to address the province’s nursing shortage and looming crisis in that area, a Kevin Vickers led Liberal government will aggressively pursue the recruitment and retention of nurses in the province through a targeted tuition relief program for students enrolling into a postsecondary nursing school.
“We will work collaboratively with our stakeholders in order to recruit and increase the number of health care professional that are being trained.
“Nurse recruitment will be an important part of a new 10-year Health Care Human Resources Strategy that a Liberal government will aggressively implement. We will be consulting with healthcare professionals to ensure that the province has the best plan to suit the needs of New Brunswickers.”
Vickers pointed out that the Higgs government made things worse, not better with moves like cutting close to $9 million in funding for nursing seats at universities.
“He actually tried to make the case that would improve things, which makes no sense. You can’t believe or trust a Higgs government on health care. If they’re allowed to continue down this path things are going to get a lot worse. We are going to see more cuts to services.”
Some of the things the Higgs government said it would do to address the nursing shortage aren’t working.
“They talked about recruiting from outside New Brunswick, but those efforts failed miserably before the pandemic, and it’s been worse of course since then,” Vickers said. “We have to work together with our nurses to address this. We have to listen to what they’re saying.”