BY KENT SPENCER, THE PROVINCE
The B.C. Nurses Union, whose contract is set to expire on March 31, wants the provincial government to hire 2,000 more nurses as part of reaching a settlement.
“Unless our employer has their head firmly up their butts, they can’t help but notice the crisis in health care,” said union president Debra McPherson on Monday.
Adopting a confrontational and emotion-laden tone in her remarks at the nurses’ annual convention in Vancouver, McPherson said that the province’s 30,000 nurses are suffering from burnout.
“Nurses are in despair every day in terms of their ability to care for patients,” she said. “We’re looking at bringing in 2,000 more nurses.”
McPherson said health care funding, which increased about three per cent in the 2012 budget, must increase.
“We have never backed down from a fight. We are going to take this fight head-on,” she said, receiving a standing ovation from the 400 delegates.
Health Minister Mike de Jong said on March 5 that upcoming negotiations will be a “challenge,” because the fiscal situation has been “difficult.”
Be he’s hopeful negotiations will be successful this year and efficiencies found in the system.
In the new round of talks, net-zero bargaining, which prompted a strike by B.C. teachers last week, has been replaced by a cooperative gains model.
Under that system, McPherson said nurses can receive wage increases when efficiencies are used to help pay for improvements.