Legislative Report (14 February 2007)

NDP Record Abysmal on Nurse Retention Issue

The NDP government earned front page headlines back in October, when it came up with a plan to pay nurses a bonus, if they agreed to work in northern locations or hard-to-fill positions. At the time, the Saskatchewan Party said it didn’t make much sense to shuffle nurses from one place to another – that would only create shortages in different places. As well, the only way to solve this problem was to fill the roughly six hundred nursing vacancies, created by 15 years of mismanagement and neglect on the part of a tired and worn-out NDP government.

Now, it appears the NDP’s much ballyhooed nursing retention program has hit the skids. Shuffling nurses from one place to another apparently has created more problems than it solved. Perhaps someone should have thought of that before the program was launched.

This province still has the worst nurse retention rate in Canada. The NDP is still looking to save money by creating part time positions instead of enticing nursing students with offers of full time work. The NDP is still forcing health districts to use overtime, instead of filling vacancies. Last year the Regina and Saskatoon regional health authorities spent $12 million on overtime! As this latest collapse shows, no amount of tinkering or short-term fixing will actually solve the problem. What’s needed is a complete patient first audit of the health system—something the Saskatchewan Party has called for repeatedly.

However, that request has fallen on deaf ears. The NDP isn’t interested in listening to the Saskatchewan Party. It isn’t interested in listening to the people of this province. However, what’s most alarming is that the NDP isn’t even interested in listening to the nurses of Saskatchewan.

The President of the Saskatchewan Union of Nurses, Rosalee Longmoore, addressed delegates to the recent annual Saskatchewan Party convention in Regina. In her speech, Ms. Longmoore talked about what she saw as the crisis in Saskatchewan health care. Longmoore says she places the blame directly at the feet of the NDP:

“We feel like our warnings for the most part are falling on deaf ears. So it has been an enormous relief for nurses to have Brad Wall and Don McMorris being so persistent and articulate in support of nurses in the legislature.”

One of the keys to working effectively is working cooperatively with those closest to the problem. Only then can people come up with the common sense ideas that lead to the effective resolution of seemingly intractable problems.

However, when a government—like the NDP—is so tired and old that it has stopped listening and stopped caring, there is really only one solution. That government must be removed from office, so that new ideas and new solutions can be found and implemented.

If you have a question about this report or any other matter, just Contact Lyle.

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