Fredericton, NB – The NB Council of Hospital Unions (CUPE Local 1252) – representing close to 10,000 healthcare workers in New Brunswick, held a press conference to expose the severity of the recruitment and retention crisis in their field.
CUPE 1252 has knowledge of excessive holes and gaps in all classifications: “We estimate there is a shortage of 200 Licenced Practical Nurses (LPNS) in NB hospitals. There are a hundred (100) vacant paramedic positions, there are gaps in Environmental Services (EVS), medical device reprocessing, maintenance, clerical and phlebotomy, to mention a few,” said Norma Robinson.
Local 1252’s conference came on the heels of an announcement by the NB Nurses Union, who revealed that there is a shortage of approximately 700 nurses provincially.
“Too often, we only hear about one or two classifications, but let’s be clear, there are serious shortages in all classifications,” said Robinson. “At the root of this are low wages and management’s over-reliance on casual labour. Too few full-time positions are posted for the sheer quantity of work to be done,” she added.
The union also noted an alarming trend where Health Networks’ recruitment efforts are under-prioritized in urban centres: “When there are staff shortages, rural hospitals are the first to suffer and the last to receive help,” said Robinson.
“We raised these issues with Premier Higgs and Minister Shephard on several occasions, we’ve asked to be part of the discussions to provide a clear picture of what is truly happening. Sadly, to date, there has been no movement, no discussions, and no invitations to meet from their part,” she added.
CUPE 1252 calls on Premier Higgs, Minister Shephard and the Regional Health Authorities to come forward to begin the discussions for improvement to the healthcare system in NB. “Healthcare in NB is at a critical state with cracks in the system, if something is not done now healthcare will crumble,” concluded Robinson.
CUPE Local 1252 represents frontline healthcare workers such as paramedics, LPN’s, patient care attendants, support staff working in environmental services, dietary, maintenance & trades, clerical, sterilization, pharmacy staff, phlebotomists and many more.