The following letter was sent to Minister of Finance Darlene Compton on May 12, 2020:
May 12, 2020
Hon. Darlene Compton
Minister of Finance
P O Box 2000
Charlottetown PE C1A 7N8
Dear Honorable Minister Compton:
On May 7, 2020, as Minister of Finance, you announced a wage top up for “certain essential workers” and while we applaud the government’s financial aid thus far during this pandemic, we were disappointed to realize that front line registered nurses and nurse practitioners do not qualify for this “incentive to support essential workers”.
Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, registered nurses have been asked to take on more work with less resources, learn new skills, be deployed to other worksites, keep up with ever changing policies, protocols and practices, change their shift schedules, provide afterhours stand by, self-isolate between shifts, struggled to find childcare and have had all leaves denied just to name a few and they did all this without complaint.
Nurses have also had to endure working through a pandemic with an uncertain supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) while knowing to provide care means to be within two meters of the patient/client/resident. Nurses were asked to provide care with very basic PPE despite the uncertainty of the mode of transmission of this novel virus. Nurses did not have access to readily available N95 respirators as they were locked up requiring you to sign out an N95 if needed. This issue continues today. Nurses were also asked, by their employer, to combine their breaks in order to conserve PPE. This meant they would work four hours at a time, wearing the same mask and not even being allowed a sip of water.
Some of our frontline nurses find themselves in a work shortage situation. This is due to all leaves being cancelled and hospital occupancy being reduced. These are part-time and casual nurses who work between 80-100% to provide capacity within the health system allowing for vacation, education, and sick leave. Some of these nurses were issued Records of Employment due to shortage of work. This is unheard of in the current milieu of a global nursing shortage and unacceptable.
Health PEI has now entered Phase 2 of the COVID-19 response and are planning for surge following the announcement of CPHO regarding the” Renew PEI, Together”. They are also planning for capacity with Long Term Care which has been the most affected and vulnerable population throughout Canada. Our registered nurses are being restricted to working in a single site, restricting movement between facilities to reduce the risk of transmission of the disease. This will impact nurse’s income, schedules, childcare, etc.
While we recognize that some essential workers are underpaid, we feel that all essential workers have contributed to this pandemic equally regardless of their wage, hours of work and profession. Some of these essential workers work for private, for profit, companies who have seen their revenue increase drastically yet some companies have yet to acknowledge their employees themselves.
It is for these reasons that we are asking you to consider what Nova Scotia has done to recognize the hard work and sacrifices of front-line health care workers and extend this incentive to all essential workers regardless of their income. I look forward to having a conversation with you to identify more clearly the “unimaginable demands “ on our frontline health care workers, Registered Nurses and Nurse Practitioners.
President PEI Nurses Union
cc Premier Dennis King
Letter in PDF Format, click here.
Response from Minister of Finance Darlene Compton on May 21, 2020, click here.