Make LPNs and Care Aides part of the solution to nursing shortage, HEU urges health minister

BCNU agrees to dispute resolution process on LPN, RN roles through B.C. Fed

In a Sept. 22 meeting with health minister Mike Farnworth, HEU secretary-business manager Chris Allnutt urged government to adopt team-based solutions and utilize the skills and potentials of close to 15,000 Licensed Practical Nurses and Care Aides as one important way of addressing B.C.’s nursing shortage.

“Clearly, government needs to adopt a broad approach to dealing with the problem and harness all of the opportunities provided by the wide range of nursing staff already working in our health care system,” says Allnutt. “That means recruitment, retraining and retention solutions involving RNs, LPNs, psychiatric nurses, Care Aides and home support workers.”

Allnutt says the union received positive feedback from Farnworth and other government officials for the union’s proposals to create new LPN positions, provide upgrading for existing LPNs to practis e to their full scope, train care aides to become LPNs, enable foreign-trained nurses to obtain full and appropriate employment, and other new and innovative roles. He says HEU’s proposals build on the successful joint efforts over the past 15 months in putting to work a special $10 million LPN and Care Aide nursing fund to provide concrete results to reduce the nursing shortage.

He also reminded Farnworth that B.C.’s RN to LPN ratio at 6:1 is the worst in Canada, well below the national average of three RNS to every LPN position.

Meanwhile, Allnutt says that BCNU has agreed to join HEU in a process under the auspices of the B.C. Federation of Labour to discuss mutual concerns about the roles of LPNs and RNs in developing creative solutions to the nursing shortage in hospitals and other care facilities. The idea was proposed by Fed president Jim Sinclair at a Sept. 27 meeting between the parties.

At that meeting, Allnutt also raised HEU’s concerns with BCNU’s selective wage comparisons between RNs, LPNs and Care Aides that featured prominently in a recent Vancouver Sun story. Contained in a BCNU news release, Allnutt says the misleading comparisons will create divisions and come at a time when HEU members pay rates were under attack from the enemies of Medicare and working people.