Nursing cutbacks cloud health future

We are nursing students from Red Deer College. We are writing to bring to your attention our perspectives and first-hand experiences of the restructuring of Alberta Health Services and the concerns we have regarding the future of health care in Alberta and across Canada.

Re: Concerns regarding the recent restructuring of Alberta Health Services from a nursing student perspective; an open letter to Mary Anne Jablonski, minister of seniors and community supports and Red Deer North MLA.

We are nursing students from Red Deer College. We are writing to bring to your attention our perspectives and first-hand experiences of the restructuring of Alberta Health Services and the concerns we have regarding the future of health care in Alberta and across Canada. We would like to advocate for a long-term plan for public health care that views nursing as a valuable and indispensable human resource.

Firstly, our student colleagues in Alberta who have recently graduated have been unable to find employment due to the apparent hiring freeze. Ultimately entire graduating classes will be lost to other provinces, countries and professions. Although this has a personal impact, it also affects the Albertan nursing workforce down the road when these professionals will be badly needed. This also brings serious concern to the workforce of other provinces and territories as Albertan nurses will infiltrate into other workforces, thus decreasing the number of positions designated for locally trained nurses.

Secondly, as seen in history, the repercussions of the restructuring of the 1990s in the nursing profession created a generation gap, leaving a leadership and mentorship void in many practice settings. To make this mistake again would be even more detrimental to the current nursing shortage as once these nurses leave Alberta, it may be difficult to get them back. Historically, provinces that have reduced nursing positions have had extreme difficulty drawing back a generation that was lost. With the apparent hiring freeze and the number of retiring nurses, nurses are required to carry heavier workloads and are forced to work more mandatory overtime shifts. This will impact patient safety in two ways: nursing resources will be spread even thinner, and fatigue will lead to higher incidences of patient compromise, such as medication errors leading to death.

Nurses are legally bound to provide safe, competent and ethical care. This restructuring threatens the ability to give this care. While this greatly affects all nurses in Alberta and across Canada, it ultimately affects the health and wellness of all Canadians.

Thank you very much for your time and consideration in giving your attention to our concerns.

Sincerely,

Kenna Pankiw

Mandy Blacklock

Katrina Vande Bunte

Red Deer

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