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Public health-care system on ‘brink of disaster,’ Canadian nurses federation says

Nurses outline crisis at premiers summit, Kenney wants climate change plan talk
Protesters gather outside as premiers meet inside during the summer meeting of the Canada’s Premiers at the Fairmont Empress in Victoria, B.C., on Monday, July 11, 2022 THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

Canadian nursing leaders say they’ve sent a message to the premiers as they meet this week that patients and nurses are suffering through a “dire staffing crisis” that threatens the sustainability of public health care.

A statement from Linda Silas, president of the Canadian Federation of Nurses, says the system is “on the brink of disaster” and nursing leaders shared proposed solutions today as the premiers start their Council of the Federation meeting.

Silas says nurses have been “struggling through extreme staffing shortages, forced overtime and cancelled vacations, with no end in sight” to untenable conditions.

The federation says its proposals focus on retaining nurses, encouraging them to return to the profession and the public health-care system, and new measures to recruit and train the next generation.

Silas says provincial commitments to strengthen health care are welcome, but “no one province or territory can solve this on their own” and federal funding will be key.

B.C. Premier John Horgan, the host and chair of the Council of the Federation, has said health funding will be a focus of the agenda, specifically that Ottawa increase its share of spending from 22 to 35 per cent to help improve the system.

Premiers are first meeting with leaders of the National Indigenous Organizations, and a statement from the Songhees Nation, which is co-hosting the event, says discussions will concern the welfare of Indigenous families and youth, and the environment.

Meanwhile, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney says he’ll be raising the alarm over the federal government’s emissions reduction plan during the’ meeting.

He says the reduction plan is “pie in the sky,” calling it a “ridiculous” target with no proper plan for implementation.

Kenney, who made the comments at the Calgary Stampede’s annual breakfast on Monday, said the implications of the plan would be devastating for Alberta just as the world needs more of its energy.

The federal plan released earlier this year is aimed at capping oil and gas sector emissions to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 and reduce oil and gas methane emissions by at least 75 per cent by 2030.

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