The Yukon Registered Nurses Association (YRNA) has weighed in on the territory's rural nurse shortage, saying a nurse's workload should not increase just because there are vacant jobs.

Last week, a petition from the Yukon Employees Union (YEU) was tabled in the territorial legislature, urging the government to "fully staff all of the Yukon's Community Health Centres, in order that no nurses are required to work alone." 

The opposition NDP, in presenting the petition, said many rural nurses in Yukon are forced to work alone. MLA Kate White said that's "not sustainable, nor is it safe."

The president of the YRNA was not available for an interview about the petition, but the organization issued a statement asserting that "a safe and healthy practice environment is a fundamental human right."

The YRNA also encouraged the health ministry to ensure that nurses' rights are supported. 

"Sufficient numbers of nurses are required to provide safe, competent and ethical care," the statement says. "The individual nurse's workload should not increase merely because staffing numbers decrease."

Health minister Pauline Frost admitted in the legislature last week that the government has struggled to fill some rural positions.

"It's very difficult to find nurses," she said.