January 22, 2021

Election Priorities: Nursing Matters

On February 13, Newfoundlanders and Labradorians head to the polls to elect a new provincial government.

The Registered Nurses’ Union Newfoundland & Labrador (RNU) represents 5,300 registered nurses (RNs) and nurse practitioners (NPs) working across our province.

Our members know the realities of the health care system. They believe passionately about improving the quality of and access to health care for all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.

This election RNU is encouraging its members to vote for health care.

RNU President Yvette Coffey sent letters to all party leaders asking for commitments on actions to improve health care for our members and patients.

The responses from each party are contained in this report. Please take time to read this material and make an informed vote.

Election Report 2021_- Responses from Political Parties

ELECTION PRIORITIES

WORKLOAD AND STAFFING

There is a direct correlation between adequate staffing and safe patient care. Vacancies in RN positions continue to rise across Newfoundland and Labrador, which is impacting patient care and creating significant challenges in the workplace for RNs. This includes burnout, excessive workload and overtime, and an inability to secure time off.

What steps will your party take to recruit and retain RNs and NPs? Will your party commit to urgently develop appropriate staffing strategies to ensure safe patient care and protect RNs and NPs from burnout and exhaustion?

 

VIOLENCE

Workplace violence is a daily reality for nurses and health care workers in hospitals, communities and long-term care facilities across our province. Workplace NL report a 118% increase in the injury rate for assaults and violent acts in health care from 2012 to 2019.

A Provincial Workplace Violence Prevention Forum was held last January to identify safety measures to help keep registered nurses and other health care workers safe. A plan has not been developed to move forward the findings of this forum.

Provincial Safety Sector Councils have been established to improve safety in a number of high risk industries, including construction, forestry, fish harvesting, and manufacturing. Health care workers face some of the highest incidents of workplace violence. RNU is calling for the creation of a Health Sector Safety Council to promote safe working environments in health care.

Will your party commit to create a provincial working group on workplace violence to move forward the findings from the 2020 Provincial Violence Prevention Forum? Will your party support the creation of a Health Sector Safety Council?

 

LONG-TERM CARE

Long term care residents vastly outnumber staff and often suffer from lack of timely care and, at times, omitted care. In some facilities there is only one RN during the day for every 80 residents. At night, there may be 1 RN to 140 residents and in some facilities there is no RN on the night shift. Decades-old research shows that a minimum of 4 direct hours of care per resident per day is required to ensure safe and quality care.

Will your party commit to increase funded hours of care to 4-hours of daily hands-on nursing and personal care per resident?

 

NURSE PRACTITIONERS

NPs are a valuable and underused resource in both rural and urban communities. Proper utilization of NPs improve access to care, decrease wait times, improve patient outcomes and decrease costs.

Will your party increase NP funding and utilization within the Regional Health Authorities? Will your party explore opportunities for NPs to operate clinics, funded under the public system?

 

RN-LED CLINICS

RNs have an ever-evolving scope of practice; RN prescribing is on the horizon. The broad scope of RNs and their holistic, person-centered interventions make it possible to design a cost-effective system that responds to changing population health demands by taking health care out of overcapacity hospitals and into the community.

Will your party commit to explore the use of RN-led clinics as a strategy to improve access to primary care in Newfoundland and Labrador?

 

$15 MINIMUM WAGE  

Ninety one per cent of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians support an increase to a $15 minimum wage. Income is an important determinant of health. RNs and NPs see firsthand the effects of low income and poor health outcomes in our province.

Will your party commit to increase the minimum wage to $15 by 2022?