Hundreds of B.C. nurses hold rally in downtown Vancouver ahead of contract negotiations

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BC Nurses’ Union hold rally in downtown Vancouver
Nurses in B.C are putting the pressure on to say their current working conditions are impacting patient care. Hundreds gathered today for a rally in downtown Vancouver as part of their annual three day convention. Richard Zussman has more. – Nov 4, 2022

Hundreds of B.C. nurses and healthcare advocates took to downtown Vancouver streets on Friday for a rally.

The prevailing issue for them is deteriorating working conditions and staffing shortages, which have only gotten worse during the pandemic, union officials say.

“We are hearing some facilities are 50 to 70 per cent short-staffed,” said Aman Grewal, BC Nurses’ Union’s president.

“(Nurses) are mandated to work overtime. Some of them are being mandated to work 24-hour shifts. No other profession mandates people to work 24 hour shifts.”

The BC Nurses’ Union is wrapping up its annual convention. Nurses are currently without a contract and are gearing up for negotiations with the province. This comes on the heels of the other major public sector union already reaching deals.

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The not-yet ratified teachers deal has raises of up to 13 per cent over three years, and salary grid increases bumping salaries by $6,000 to $8,500 a year.

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“(The teachers deal) has set the bar, where we can start from and we can see where we can go from that,” said Grewal.

Starting next week, health ministers from across the country will be in Vancouver. On the agenda is human resources concerns as every province struggles to find not just nurses, but workers from across the health-care sector.

“Employers in this province need to become the best employer there is so they can recruit and retain employees,” said Linda Silas, Canadian Federation of Nurses Union’s president.

Nurses are leaving the system due to burnout.

While provinces struggle to keep up training new nurses amid growing populations, a central focus for the health ministers.

“The purpose here is to work together, across the country, to improve access for everyone to qualified health professionals,” said Adrian Dix, B.C.’s health minister.

A promise was made by B.C. officials to not actively poach health-care staff from other provinces.

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