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Not much for frontline health workers in Newfoundland and Labrador budget, say unions

Jerry Earle
Jerry Earle - SaltWire Network file photo

Unions who represent frontline health-care workers in Newfoundland and Labrador say Wednesday’s provincial budget offered few hints as to what the future may have in store for them.

“Premier (Andrew) Furey has been quite open that we need to do things differently and that everything is on the table for economic recovery,” the Registered Nurses Union of Newfoundland and Labador (RNUNL) said in a statement. “This budget provides little detail on government’s plans, leaving our members wondering what lies ahead for health care.”

The union said it was pleased to see positive initiatives for women, children and families, but disappointed that violence in health care settings was not specifically addressed.

“Claims involving assault and violent acts in the health care sector have increased by 118 per cent since 2012,” it said.

“Addressing inadequate registered nurse staffing will lower costs to deliver health care and improve the quality of care and patient outcomes.”

Wednesday’s budget highlighted a task force being struck to establish a 10-year health accord on health care services. The accord is part of a mandate letter to Health Minister John Haggie.

“We’re calling on government to ensure front line health-care providers help inform these decisions and that safe staffing levels will be part of the solution,” the RNUNL said.

“Addressing inadequate registered nurse staffing will lower costs to deliver health care and improve the quality of care and patient outcomes.”

The statement added that the province has the highest casual workforce in the country, and the system relies on registered nurses working more than 250,000 of overtime hours a year.

Meanwhile, the president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Asociation of Public and Private Employees said he also saw “no steps back and no significant strides forward.”

“A flat budget in health care is really a reduced budget,” Jerry Earle added.

Earle said he’s glad health infrastructure projects are still going ahead, and said staffing for those will be a matter for future budgets.

The Telegram

This story has been updated.

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