Nfld. & Labrador

NDP calling for more hires in hospitals, long-term care homes

Newfoundland and Labrador's New Democratic Party says the provincial government is spending millions on overtime when it could be hiring full-time staff.

Use overtime money on more full-time hires, rather than stretching staff thin

Alison Coffin holds a press conference in St. John's on Wednesday. (Garrett Barry/CBC)

The Newfoundland and Labrador New Democratic Party is calling for the provincial government to hire more full-time staff in hospitals and long-term care homes.

Party Leader Alison Coffin said Wednesday that health authorities are spending millions to pay overtime for existing staff, when they could be spending that money to hire more workers on a full-time basis.

The enormous amount of money that's being spent on overtime right now can be better used.- Alison Coffin

All the overtime means front-line staff are being stretched thin.

"Health-care workers are pulling 12-hour shifts, and then told they can't leave. Sixteen-hour shifts are becoming more common," she said.

"The enormous amount of money that's being spent on overtime right now can be better used on full-time staff."

Coffin told reporters she couldn't yet say how many more workers her party wanted to hire, but said it would be "as much as needed."

"I really need to get into the system to have a look at that more particularly, and that's going to vary across the particular facilities as well as across the different regions in the province," she said.

In January, the president of the Registered Nurses' Union Newfoundland and Labrador made a similar call, telling CBC Radio's On The Go that some nurses are being asked to work 24-hours straight.

Shortages 'absolutely everywhere'

Last week, NAPE held a rally outside Pleasant View Towers, and union head Jerry Earle said his members were at a "boiling point" and had been told they would not be able to take vacations.

A vice-president with Eastern Health said the authority had only been able to hire half the number of temporary LPNs and PCAs they normally would.

Coffin said the public will see "staffing shortages" at any type of health care facility.

"Absolutely everywhere. You're going to see it in emergency rooms, you're going to see it in the long-term care facilities, so if you're going to visit your grandmother in the seniors complex you would see the staffing shortages there."

Coffin claimed the province could spend more on health care if they decided not to offer Canopy Growth $40 million in sales tax breaks.

She said her party wouldn't cap health care expenditure, but would "rearrange how health care spending is being spent."

Any elected NDP MHA would advocate inside the House of Assembly, Coffin said, and said the party still had a chance to form the next government — even if it isn't running a full slate of candidates.

"You never know what could happen, 14 might be a turning point for us," she said. "If we win every seat and we divide the others by all of the others we could very well form a minority government."

Read more articles from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

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