B.C. nurses rally in Vancouver, call on government to address ‘untenable’ conditions
Posted May 31, 2023 12:47 pm.
Last Updated May 31, 2023 10:41 pm.
Hundreds of nurses and healthcare providers gathered in Vancouver Wednesday to call on the B.C. government to “take action to address the state of the health care system,” in what they characterize as being “untenable.”
The BC Nurses’ Union says workers from across the province came together at Jack Poole Plaza during the union’s annual convention.
It’s Day 2 of the BCNU’s annual convention. Delegates will spend most of their day focused on the business of the union. Noon today, members rally at Jack Poole Plaza, Canada Place, to call on gov’t to take action to address the state of health-care system.#BCPoli pic.twitter.com/inHBb4aDNg
— BC Nurses’ Union (@BCNursesUnion) May 31, 2023
Many who gathered at the plaza held up signs with slogans such as, “Safe staffing saves lives” and “put your promise into action.”
The union is calling for the province to implement the nurse-to-patient ratio agreed to in its latest bargaining agreement — one it says has yet to become a reality.
Peggy Holton, who is currently a nurse at Surrey Memorial Hospital, has worked in health for over 40 years. She says more nurses need to be recruited, fast.
“We are here to try and emphasize with the government that they need to act on the ratios that they promised during bargaining, to ensure that our patients have safe care. Right now, we have nurse-patient ratios that often exceed one-to-five, one-to-eight, depending on staffing shortages and it has impacts on patients,” she explained.
Holton says she has too many stories that describe the challenging situation created by too few nurses over the years.
“There’s only been once in my life where I thought that I would quit this job and that was through the heat dome and that was awful. But it’s getting to the point now where it’s daunting day after day, and I see the look on all of our staff’s faces and the look of just ultimate defeat and not wanting to carry on anymore,” Holton said. “Hearing new nurses wanting to leave, that’s really sad.”
Wednesday’s rally comes amid ongoing discussions around challenges at various hospitals across the Lower Mainland, including Surrey Memorial Hospital (SMH). Some frontline workers have described the situation at SMH as a crisis.
On Tuesday, the Fraser Health Authority’s chief executive acknowledged challenges at area hospitals, including SMH. However, she stopped short of calling the situation a crisis, saying “we’re providing safe, good care to our patients that are coming through Surrey Memorial Hospital.”
-With files from Hana Mae Nassar and Martin MacMahon