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Commentary: Nurses' warning must prompt action

Pandemic has created huge challenges

New warnings from the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions that the nation's health-care system is in crisis should be a wake-up call for politicians in this province and across Canada.

During the recent Council of the Federation meeting, premiers and territorial leaders were told more must to be done to support a health system hard hit by the pandemic and ongoing health-care worker recruitment and retention challenges.

Failing to do so could result in a long-term crisis that would have negative impacts in communities large and small from coast to coast.

Whether the politicians are prepared to take the advice of the nurses and act without delay remains to be seen. What is known is that when the nurses on the frontline say there is need for immediate action, it means there isn’t time to waste.

“Health care is on the brink of disaster. Canada needs our leaders – the prime minister and every premier – to step up and save quality public health care,” said Linda Silas, president of the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions.

“Nurses and our health-care system are on the edge of a precipice. Governments must not delay action any longer. Nurses continue to face forced overtime and extreme staffing shortages. With no relief in sight, many are being driven out of the profession.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has given rise to unprecedented pressures and challenges across the health system, creating the real possibility of a pending disaster, the nurses say.

With the next wave of the pandemic already rising in many parts of the county, the stark warnings issued by Canada’s nurses highlight the need for politicians on all sides to make support for the health system a top priority. 

“Nurses understand the health-care system and have concrete proposals for how to fix it. We stand ready to work with the premiers and the federal government,” said Silas.

Hopefully Canada’s political leaders will put aside their differences and take concrete action to heed the nurses’ warnings.

Dan Singleton is an editor with the Albertan.

Dan Singleton

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