I am the president of CUPE Nova Scotia and I represent 4000 workers in 48 nursing homes across the province. I am also an LPN with 20 years experience working in long term care. I speak with the voice of a caregiver and an activist.
I am frustrated that government does not hear our voices. Recruitment and retention continue to get worse in long term care. Would you be attracted to a profession where you are underpaid, undervalued, understaffed and underfunded?
Working short leads to mandated overtime and an increased injury rate. Going to work every day not being able to meet the residents needs in a way that is comforting to the resident and the caregiver… How long can people work in this environment and not experience burn out?
The McNeil government, in their limited wisdom, has made a few moves with long term care. They cut funding to such a degree that in the next budget they had to put some back for the grocery budget and recreation for our seniors. Meanwhile they ended the bursary program that assisted the predominantly female population to acquire their education.
There have been six years with no economic increase for thousands of workers. Bill 148 was passed, which has 0% in two of the years. Once the math is done it is a wage rollback and nowhere near the cost of living. For several years now, the starting rate of for CCAs remains $16.38. There has been no increase in the resident to staff ratio in 15 years and everyone seems to agree there is an increase in the acuity of care. Also, the McNeil government is committed to no new beds.
In Canada, Nova Scotia has the largest percentage of its population that is over 65 and we are not getting younger. When we reached out to the province and asked to work with them on a recruitment and retention plan… .silence. We have waited seven months now and still no answer.
Minister Delorey responded to the report on long term care released last week by saying the government would pursue and act on the 22 recommendations. What that means is anyone’s guess. In the meantime, long term care will continue to burn at the expense of those we care for and those who care for them.
CUPE Nova Scotia President
If you can, please support the Nova Scotia Advocate so that it can continue to cover issues such as poverty, racism, exclusion, workers’ rights and the environment in Nova Scotia.