Nurses, personal care home operators unhappy with budget

Barb Sweet
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In a budget heavy on health care spending, at least two groups were not pleased Tuesday with the provincial government.

Health care will cost the province $3 billion this fiscal year, or 38.5 per  cent of the budget. In fiscal 2010-11, the province spent nearly $2.9 billion.

Nurses’ union president Debbie Forward was scathing in her assessment of what the budget does for her membership.

“Overall the budget was very disappointing. We are coming with almost half a billion surplus. The focus on health care, from my perspective, was minimal. We did see some money for infrastructure, which obviously government has committed in the past number of years,” Forward said.

“Nurses weren’t even mentioned in the budget. There was money for retention of physicians, but nurses were ignored and I know nurses are going to be disappointed because we need to make sure we continue to make this an attractive place for nurses to work and this budget certainly didn’t go anywhere near that.”

Shaun Lane, president of the Personal Care Home Association of Newfoundland and Labrador, said his group was misled by the provincial government.

He said the $792,000 announced for the creation of a small personal care home subsidy program won’t do much for the industry.

“I think we just got a 12-13 cent an hour raise —  not sufficient,” Lane said.

“We’ve got some (personal care) home owners this week who are going to be very disappointed. Some of them will have to seriously consider closing after this budget.”

Lane said the government regulates the homes, legislates the wages they have to pay and controls the fees they charge, but is doing little to help the homes stay afloat.

His group represents 60 of the 97 personal care homes on the island portion of the province.

“We recently sent an email to the government that nearly 20 per cent of personal care homes on the island are on the verge of closing due to lack of government funding and just trying to keep up with government's legislated expenses,” Lane said.

But if the health portion of the budget had its detractors, it also had its defenders.

Vickie Kaminski, CEO of Eastern Health, the largest of the province's four health authorities, said the continued spending on capital infrastructure is great news. That spending includes $4.5 million to plan for replacing the Waterford Hospital.

“We’ve got long-term care in Carbonear, St. John’s, a  commitment to recruitment and retention initiatives, which I think are going to be very good for us,” Kaminski said.

“We’ve just got to convince health care workers from across Canada to come in terms of retention and recruitment money.”

And while nurses may not think there’s anything there for them, Kaminski said spending to improve patient flow and efficiency will improve their work life.

“Nurses will find something in there, while it may not have a nursing tag on it right now,” she said.




Health Care Spending

Selected spending on health care announced or reannounced in Tuesday’s budget:

• $200.6 million for new and continuing construction and redevelopment.

• $1.8 million for the redevelopment of cardiac care services within Eastern Health.

• $1.8 million to create a new access and clinical efficiency division in the Department of Health and Community Services to provide leadership on reducing wait times.

• $1.1 million to implement the recommendations of the patient flow study conducted by Eastern Health.

• $700,000 to reduce the private vehicle expense threshold under the medical transportation assistance program (MTAP) from 5,000 kilometres to 2,500 kilometres for individuals travelling to access insured medical services retroactive to October 1, 2010. There will also be a prepayment of 50 per cent of the cost of economy airfare for medical travel for residents.

• Six new drug therapies added under the Newfoundland and Labrador Prescription Drug Program. The drugs haven’t been identified yet.

• $3.6 million for physicians who assume significant clinical and administrative leadership roles within the regional health authorities.

• $1.2 million to increase the funding for the medical/dental student and resident bursary program.

• $2.6 million to increase the current home support hourly subsidy rate by 25 cents. 

Source: Government of Newfoundland and Labrador

Organizations: Personal Care Home Association of Newfoundland and Labrador, Waterford Hospital

Geographic location: Carbonear, Canada

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Recent comments

  • Bobbie
    April 21, 2011 - 09:18

    Having been in the hospital as a patient,,I know, that the nurses put in a lot of time and effort into their work ,they work very hard for long hours,and have a lot of responsibilities. Ms.Forward ,unfortunately, is complaining again about money for the nurses. Didn't they get what they wanted last time around ?, and, complaining too soon is not going to help her or her cause.Keep your mouth shut,Ms.Forward,atleast for the short term, there are other professionals in this province who work just as hard and should be on the same pay scale as the nurses,but are not.

  • mj
    April 21, 2011 - 07:43

    When the nurses were on strike recently I supported them totally! But I'm an ex nurse and remember what nurses were like when I was nursing, caring and supportive and nice. I was in hospital recently and found such a difference; they are simply mean and sour faced and there are too many of them. At any time there are three or four of them sitting down and you don't dare go near that office to ask for anything! Milk and juice is under lock and key and they simply won't get up to let you get any. The housekeeping staff are your saviors; they will go get you a drink if you need it as they have keys to the kitchen also. They will bring you your over bed table after the nurses have slammed it against the far wall and left it there. The nurses are always so angry. They don't make rounds anymore; I had three things I needed to have done for me in a twelve hr. shift and that's how often I saw them, and I with heart trouble! Everyone else in that hospital was professional and decent, from emerg. to all the various technicians ,housekeeping, doctors especially, to follow up clinics and their staff. God help anyone who has to go through what I did!

  • dorothy scheeler
    April 20, 2011 - 14:22

    Ya when are the nurses ever happy.

  • Doug
    April 20, 2011 - 13:47

    Nurses unhappy? Really? I mean really?!!? LMAO, they are NEVER happy!

    • KD
      April 20, 2011 - 14:05

      It`s about time the public servants from all unions take a break and give the remainder of us taxpayers who make real money a break. It seems the province was much better off when we were a have not province or are the unions doing some political campaining for the ndp

  • lumptn
    April 20, 2011 - 12:39

    The Government has made a significant amount of the Budget to the Health Care. People are getting sick og hering her whining......

  • wayne harvey
    April 20, 2011 - 12:36

    The fact is this: The poor mislead public knows nothing about health care. As a former health care worker, I must point out that the staffing at the hospitals in St. Johns is excessive in every way. From the wonderful nurses in the ER whose first instinct ,after returning to work after a period of offtime, is to check the time sheet to see when they are ' off again', to the operating room and recovery room nurses who,on weekends, sit in comfort while waiting for some unsuspecting , non elective surgery victim to show up with a need to be relentlessly subjected to the benefits of modern surgery.(very little planned surgery on weekends) Their sister nurses (and brothers ) toil away at the menial tasks of their chosen field ,you know looking after real people who happen to have the misfortune to land in what is certainly the most dangerous place for a patient , the hospital. The support staff is also 'top heavy' and should be assessed by someone at the grond level and not by some nurse who has not even been handy to a patient in so long that all she knows how to do is to pick what civilian outfit to wear to work so that her eyes match her shoes. GET SOMEONE WHO KNOWS TO TAKE A LOOK -------AND WAKE UP.

  • Mike
    April 20, 2011 - 11:22

    Debbie Forward and her clan are never pleased with anything.

  • Nick
    April 20, 2011 - 10:48

    Mr. Lane is a liberal candidate of record. Government has put millions more into this industry, but he is still cying foul. This the the problme with Libs and even NDP, bemoaning "unsustainable" spending while calling for more and more.

  • John
    April 20, 2011 - 10:47

    It was only a year or 2 ago that Debbie Forward got pay equity equal to the Maritime Provinces and then held the government at ransom about a couple of dinky little clauses until the last minute literally and then took what THEY deemed the least important of the 2 and then said that in 2 years time that she felt the health care system would have all the nurses it needed. Now, she is screaming that there is no money again - what does she want? Vicki Kaminski seems to be happy with the budget saying that the nurses will get benefits but just that they weren't mentioned by name. BOHOO BOHOO Get over it nurses and or Ms. Forward.

  • Not Impressed
    April 20, 2011 - 09:04

    To MEME...Seriously, get a new argument. You think by throwing more money at the existing nurses and doctors will improve wait times. No it won't. It will just give these so called 'professionals' more to complain more. There is a shortage in staff and there are long wait times...everyone I think will agree to this. But the resolution for the problems is not to give more money to an existing problem. This will not stop the complaining or fix the workloads. The problem is much much more bigger than money.

  • meme
    April 20, 2011 - 08:51

    To the people who thinks doctors and nurses are given enough, just wait until you or one of your family members are in hospital for a long period of time so you can see first hand just how short staff they are and how hard they work. Tell me then they are getting enough!!!! No i am not a doctor or nurse but i have seen the long hours they work and the care that is involved!!! I would pay any price for myself or family to be well taken care of!!!

  • Not Impressed
    April 20, 2011 - 08:41

    Really Debbie're disappointed that nurses weren't even mentioned in the budget? Honestly I don't know how you can say that with a straight face. It seems to me that nurses have it good. They have been given a lot over the last while and now you have the Gaul to say that you were expecting more. If NL & Lab isn't an attractive place to new nurses and retain the ones we have now then I have no idea where would be. The salaries and benefits that are in place now are on par. I just don't know what will make the nurses happy anymore...maybe being able to sit home and do nothing while collecting their paycheck would be a start. But really, all nurses knew the work and hours that go with the job while they were training for the profession. I am sorry, but I have no sympathy for nurses...not when I see a lot of people struggling to make a living. And in case you are wondering, I do think there are a lot of improvements that need to be made with the health system, but it isn't all related to the nursing profession.

  • Doug
    April 20, 2011 - 08:39

    Unreal, just simply unreal!!! $3 billion being pumped into healthcare, more than a third of the entire budget and yet these alleged healthcare 'professionals' are still whining about more money. The doctors and nurses take turns every year doing their best to railroad the place into bankruptcy.

  • Jon
    April 20, 2011 - 08:32

    Nurses unhappy!? You must be kidding me?

    • Jon
      April 20, 2011 - 08:48

      Honestly, is this woman delusional? $3B spending on health care, 38.5% of expenditures and she says it is minimal!?