Community nursing crisis a sign of government refusal to support workers

As the Yukon Party government continues to evade questions about the high turnover of community nurses, the Yukon NDP caucus is calling for the government to review its own reports and address ongoing concerns about the well-being of community safety and health care providers.

“The Yukon Party government has known about the critical problems facing Yukon’s community nurses for at least five years. It’s clear they do not see it as a priority,” says Yukon NDP leader Liz Hanson. “The Yukon government has an obligation to ensure that people have access to high-quality public health care – no matter where they live – and that our community health care professionals have safe and supportive workplaces.”

The Yukon Employees’ Union, which represents community nurses, penned a public letter criticizing Yukon Party government inaction. This letter represents a critical mass of frustration over workplace conditions for community nurses, including a systemic inability to adequately support community nurses and to limit periods of time when a nurse is working without a colleague on duty.

The 2014 Health and Social Services Strategic Plan points out that “[their] inability to recruit, retain, and engage employees over the long-term may compromise achievements of strategic outcomes.” Similarly, a 2010 Community Nursing Services Review flagged nurses’ working environment as one of the biggest challenges to community nurses’ recruitment and retention.

“Community nurses are on the front line of public health delivery in our communities. This situation is not sustainable,” added Yukon NDP health critic Jan Stick. “These hard-working and dedicated health care professionals need more support. It’s shocking that the government remains unable, or unwilling, to present an action plan to address community nurses’ concerns.”