Photo: Glacier Media
The BC Nurses Union believes the province’s healthcare system is at a point of crisis and is urging the NDP government to act now before it’s too late.
“It’s on the verge of collapse,” union vice president Adriane Gear told members and the public at a rally Tuesday noon in Fort St. John.
“Almost daily we see service disruptions and temporary closures of emergency departments in communities across this province due to the shortage of nurses and doctors. That’s not okay!” said Gear.
“Here in Fort St. John, the nursing staff in the hospital department’s emergency room is far fewer than in any other emergency room in the province. How can the largest city in the Northeast not have a fully operational ICU?” she asked.
President Aman Grewal calls for immediate action.
“Enough is enough. Get to work and make some changes quickly before healthcare runs out,” she told the crowd.
“Why do we have this deficiency? Because nobody was listening. Hospitals in Chetwynd and Mackenzie have diverted many times, resulting in residents choosing long journeys to other communities to seek treatment. Shame on you.”
“When I started at Northern Health in 2020, it was common to have a one nurse to four patient ratio. Today there are eight to 10 patients for every nurse,” said Jereme Bennett, Prince George’s palliative care nurse, who also attended the rally.
“I’ve seen a lot of nurses go. I have seen many nurses cry at the end of their shift. I have seen many nurses looking shocked. They can’t believe what they are confronted with when they go to work.”
Bennett said this is resulting in many nurses refusing or declining to accept full-time positions, putting additional strain on the system.
Grewal said some specialist nurses are expected to cover other areas that they are unfamiliar with or specifically trained in.
Fort St. John Mayor Lori Ackerman said the city is finding it difficult to attract new residents with the state of health care.
“Healthcare is fundamental to communities. If you don’t have good health care, good education, and good public safety, you can’t build a community. It doesn’t matter how good your economy is,” Ackerman explained.
“We’ll have to, excuse the pun, rip off the band-aid and start dealing with it.”
“I’ve had relatives in the hospital, I have friends who have people in the hospital and I hear horror stories about what’s going on,” said concerned resident Carol Kube.
Kube believes the region’s MLA should take some of the responsibility.
“Dan Davies shirks his responsibilities by not shouting loud enough, not going to people and asking what people want.”
“We need to get some kind of residence up here to make it affordable for people who want to come. We just can’t. We need more government funding. They are willing to take our money but they don’t want to give us anything back and that’s not fair.”
“People need to get up and start shouting,” Kube added.