Yukon NDP calls for action on community nursing

Understaffing and vacant positions in Yukon's Community Health Centres are harming Yukon's ability to offer quality health care in our communities, and the Yukon Party needs to be accountable and take action to protect public safety.

On 28 May, Yukon NDP Official Opposition Health and Social Services Critic Jan Stick raised the issue of community nursing vacancies going unfilled, only to receive a non-answer from Darrell Pasloski.

“We have heard that at least five community nurses have quit in recent months and the Yukon Party just doesn’t seem to care,” said Stick. “The situation is getting worse. Nurses are burned out, vacancies haven’t been filled and healthcare for rural Yukoners is at risk, despite the heroic efforts of nurses. The Yukon Party approach to recruitment and retention of valuable health professionals is failing miserably.”

In a recent newsletter, Yukon Employees’ Union President Steve Geick said that “nurses tell us that vacant positions remain unfilled; medical centres that are intended to be staffed by two nurses at all times frequently rely on a single nurse with no back-up.”

Community Health Centres are supposed to be staffed by two nurses at all times, but according to department “nurse alone hours” statistics, nurses are regularly working alone in medical centres throughout Yukon communities.

Community nurses don’t just run the health centres full-time -- they are on-call as first responders, and when EMS volunteers aren’t available, it simply means no weekends off for already over-worked nurses. These working conditions may explain why so many community nurses have quit or transferred out.

This issue was brought to the Yukon Party government’s attention in the spring, and as the situation deteriorates further the Minister of Health and Social Services is nowhere to be found.

“Rural Yukoners access their healthcare needs through Community Health Centres,” says Mayo–Tatchun MLA Jim Tredger, whose constituents in Carmacks, Mayo and Pelly Crossing depend on these health centres. “It’s time for this government to step up; the consequences of continued inaction is a serious public safety matter.”