Bonnie Lawrence, of Red Deer, with her two-year-old son Harrison. Lawrence said nurses helped her tremendously during Harrison’s birth. (Contributed photo)

Bonnie Lawrence, of Red Deer, with her two-year-old son Harrison. Lawrence said nurses helped her tremendously during Harrison’s birth. (Contributed photo)

Red Deer woman voices support for nurses, as province aims to cut their salaries

Red Deer’s Bonnie Lawrence was in her 43rd hour of labour when she hit a breaking point.

“I said I was done. I said, ‘I don’t want to do this anymore,’” Lawrence said.

“They brought in a nurse, who I hadn’t seen the whole time I was there, … but she came in, came right up to me and said, ‘Forget everybody else. This is me and you. We’re doing this.’ She was so kind, answered all my questions, made sure I didn’t feel afraid and talked me through it.”

Lawrence ended up having an emergency C-section and credits this nurse with giving her strength. The same nurse came to see her the next morning to make sure she was OK.

Nine hours after giving birth, Lawrence was brought to the neonatal intensive care unit, where her son Harrison, now two years old, was being kept. She cried after seeing the nurses caring for her baby.

Lawrence was discharged before Harrison – and when she felt guilty about leaving before her son – nurses again rallied around and comforted her.

Lawrence posted her story on Twitter earlier this week after the Alberta government announced it’s aiming to cut nurses’ salaries to bring them in line with their counterparts in other provinces.

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Alberta finance minister Travis Toews said Tuesday evening Alberta nurses make 5.6 per cent more on average than in comparative provinces – he announced the government favours a three per cent salary rollback for nurses, in addition to previously announced reductions for shift and weekend premiums.

Friends of Medicare stated Alberta’s nurses are facing at least a five per cent loss in total compensation, including cuts to shift differentials and premiums.

Lawrence said nurses are “so kind and compassionate,” and dedicated to helping all Albertans.

“The nurses just went through this pandemic, working so many hours helping. I know personally they were holding the hands of people who were dying alone,” she said Friday morning.

“Considering the emotional trauma of that, which they’re going to carry, (for the government) to say, ‘Thanks for doing that, but we’re cutting your salary by three per cent and you’re lucky to have a job,’ is outrageous,” she said.

Albertans should be rallying around nurses right now, said Lawrence.

“The impact they had on me was so huge and they do that for thousands of people every day,” she said.

“If you’ve never had to have a nurse, you’re a very lucky person. Very few of us can say they’ve never needed someone in the medical profession to help them and nurses are the backbone of our healthcare (system), especially in rural communities.”

Lawrence said she believes it’s “misogynistic” for the government to go after nurses.

“I feel that he is looking to cut professions that are predominately women,” Lawrence said, adding she believes Premier Jason Kenney has a pattern of treating women as unimportant.

“Women are the caretakers of our society and they do the care-taking positions the majority of the time – there are great male nurses too, but they’re predominately women.

“I think it’s so important because he’s looking to cut things that are so necessary, and especially with (child) labour and delivery, that affects women – for women, with women.”



sean.mcintosh@reddeeradvocate.com

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