Urgent care nurses in Winnipeg want the extra pay given to ER nurses

September 9, 2021 Off By administrator

Urgent care nurses from three Winnipeg hospitals want to know why they have been excluded from a $6 per hour pandemic premium being given to their emergency room colleagues.

In an open letter sent out Wednesday, the nurses say the discrepancy is not only unfair but is creating a division among the two groups.

“Nurses all pay the same amount in union dues to ensure we all receive fair and equal compensation. This pay inequity needs to be addressed, and fair for all nurses in the profession, equal pay for equal work,” says an email sent to CBC News from the nurses.

Three identically worded letters were signed by nurses at each urgent care centre — about 85 signatures in all.

The emergency departments at Concordia, Seven Oaks and Victoria hospitals were shut down and converted into urgent care centres by the provincial government in 2019.

It appears emergency department nurses at Health Sciences Centre, Grace Hospital and St. Boniface Hospital are receiving a $6/hour premium as an attempt to retain nurses due to a critical staffing shortage, the letter says.

The same shortage exists at the urgent care centres, the nurses say.

“Our health-care system is in chaos and as nurses we are sounding the alarm to advocate for patient safety, we urge the government and the employer to address this critical nursing shortage,” the letter says.

“ER and UC wait times are at an all time high, admitted patients are waiting for days for a ward bed, and hallway medicine is a common occurrence.

“Nurses are constantly working short-staffed and being mandated with no end in site, resulting in burnout and forcing them to pursue other employment opportunities.”

Urgent care and emergency nurses undergo the same Winnipeg Regional Health Authority training and “many patients present to urgent care expecting the same amount of resources as an emergency department so we operate at the same level,” the letter says.

“Each day we came to work during the pandemic we all faced the same uncertainty of COVID and it was irrelevant whether the facility was an ER or UC,” the letter says.

Since May 2021, urgent care nurses have also been asked to take extra shifts at ERs due to the shortages, which underscores the fact the jobs are the same, the nurses said in the email to CBC.

“We are perplexed at how we have been routinely undervalued and unappreciated during the pandemic as we functioned as an ER while staffed as a UC. Our question is what is the criteria for nurses to receive this $6 an hour premium?” the open letter says.

The three identically worded letters were sent out and signed by nurses at each urgent care centre, with a total of 85 signatures. (Supplied by Concordia Hospital urgent care nurses)

CBC New emailed the Progressive Conservative government on Thursday morning to request a response to the nurses’ complaint. No response has been issued yet.

Opposition NDP Leader Wab Kinew held a news conference Thursday, calling on the province to…

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