Once again, I would like to thank you for the unwavering care you are providing Islanders. Each and every day brings with it new and unprecedented challenges. Like all Canadians, we are coping with drastic changes to our daily lives – to our family life. And as nurses, there’s another layer of worry and anxiety that we are feeling right now, as we head to work facing uncertainty and extraordinary demands in a rapidly changing environment.
With these increased pressures, I just want to remind you that it’s okay not to feel okay right now. We all need to practice a bit more self-care and self-compassion over the coming weeks and months. And if you need to talk, please consider reaching out to a trusted friend or your Employee Assistance Program.
Since my last letter, PEINU has continued to be in regular contact with Health PEI to make sure your safety is their top priority. Our position is clear: your safety is not negotiable. Given that we still don’t know everything we need to know about this virus, we are urging the employer to err on the side of caution and provide nurses with the protective equipment they need. At the end of the day, you need to be empowered to exercise your clinical and professional judgment when it comes to protecting yourself.
Recently, I wrote a letter calling on our government to sign a joint statement similar to the ones issued in British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario and New Brunswick. This joint statement would stress the importance of protecting nurses and recognize their expertise in determining the appropriate level of personal protective equipment they need to stay safe. The joint statement would also agree on fundamental health and safety standards, including the precautionary principle and respecting nurses’ point-of-care risk assessments when engaging with patients with presumed or confirmed cases of COVID-19.
Just this week, CUPE, UPSE, IUOE and PEINU have joined together to underscore the importance of protecting the health and safety of our members. Governments need to understand that we cannot overcome this pandemic without keeping nurses safe – without providing them with the proper PPE. How can we be expected to stem the spread of COVID-19 if the very people tasked with caring for patients are needlessly exposed to the virus and potentially acting as vectors for it?
The employer is fully aware of where we stand on this issue.
As your president, I have had many conversations with elected leaders at all levels of government – including Premier King – throughout this pandemic. During each of these discussions, I have never missed an opportunity to commend you, our Island’s valiant nurses. We will get through this – and we will get through it thanks to your expertise, education, skills, dedication and compassion.
Once again, thank you for everything you do. Don’t forget that your union has your back; we are here to protect you.
Stay safe and take care of yourselves and each other.