49 emergency room nurses slam Sask. Party in letter

Poor working conditions, favouritism, $300K travel nurse pay at issue

REGINA - Today, the Official Opposition released a letter signed by 49 emergency room nurses in Saskatoon. The letter slams the Sask. Party government for failing to support Saskatchewan nurses and curb the province’s reliance on expensive out-of-province travel nurses.

“This tired and out-of-touch government’s over-reliance on out-of-province travel nurses is proof that their health human resource plan isn’t working,” said Rural and Remote Health Critic Jared Clarke. “We need to be focused on taking care of the nurses who take care of us. Our health system needs wide-scale reform, and that starts with changing the culture that’s driving nurses out of our province.”

The Opposition obtained a copy of a letter to Minister of Health Everett Hindley, signed by 49 emergency room nurses from St. Paul’s Hospital. The letter details how the over-reliance on out-of-province travel nurses is eroding morale and making staffing issues worse.

The letter confirms that Saskatchewan nurses who want to pick up extra shifts are told that they can’t, because the government has to give them to travel nurses first to fulfill its contractual obligations to out-of-province travel nurse agencies.

This unequal treatment, coupled with massive differences in salary, have Saskatchewan nurses questioning why the government is not doing more to retain home-grown healthcare workers: “We can find ways to attract agency nurses and keep them coming back, why can we not find ways to retain our own nurses?

The most recent data supplied by the provincial Health Ministry suggests that 242 travel nurses are currently working in Saskatchewan hospitals. The Saskatchewan Union of Nurses predicts that the province is on track to spend $70 million on travel nurses in 2024. That means the province is paying approximately $289,256 for each travel nurse.


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