New Brunswick government invests nearly $1.5M in nursing program

Click to play video: 'N.B. investing more money into nursing education'
N.B. investing more money into nursing education
WATCH: Under the thumb of a continually-strained health-care system, New Brunswick is investing more money in nursing education. An additional $1.5 million has been given to the University of New Brunswick. Nathalie Sturgeon reports – Apr 7, 2022

Amid mounting ambulance offload delays and critical emergency room staffing shortages, the government in New Brunswick is investing more money into the nursing program at the University of New Brunswick.

On Thursday, Health Minister Dorothy Shephard and Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour Minister Trevor Holder announced an additional $1.48 million for the program.

Part of the Nursing Resource Strategy, it will create a mental health specialization within the Bachelor of Nursing Program, adding 21 seats. It will also double the number of seats in the nurse practitioner program, increasing to 20.

“I’m encouraged by the progress that has been made since the release of this strategy and the University of New Brunswick has and continues to play a critical role in the success of that strategy,” said Holder, speaking at the event.

He said the nursing shortage has been an ongoing problem.

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“This challenge did not occur overnight, it happened because of a whole host of things that came together to create a perfect storm,” he said.

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“In many ways, it was because a lot the players were not rowing in the same direction.”

The government has been working toward improving the health-care system through a new plan but it fell short on solid plans for recruitment and retention.

The plan was unveiled on Nov. 17 and included many sweeping changes including the New Brunswick Primary Care Network.

The money for the nurse practitioners, Health Minister Dorothy Shephard said, will directly help reduce the number of people on the waitlist for primary care providers.

Shepherd reassured the students who were in attendance at the announcement that there are jobs for each and every graduate from the program within the province and believes the province is competitive enough to retain them.

“I think that we actually did address that in our most recent negotiations and our most recent acceptance of those negotiations, so, I believe we are very competitive,” she said.

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All of this is at the backdrop of increasing ambulance offload delays and health-care worker shortages.

On Wednesday, Horizon Health Network tweeted the main Fredericton emergency room at the Dr. Everett Chalmers Regional Hospital couldn’t treat non-urgent cases due to a critical staffing shortage.

New Brunswick Nurses Union president Paula Doucet said nurses are tired and overworked in the system.

“Those stressors have played immensely both physically and emotionally,” she said in an interview. “We know that most recently that many nurses have chosen to leave the profession.”

About 41 per cent of nurses are expected to retire in the next five years.

“I am pleased, however, it doesn’t alleviate the immediate stress or strain that we are feeling on our health care system today.”

Click to play video: 'New Brunswick nurses union calls for action to address working conditions'
New Brunswick nurses union calls for action to address working conditions

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