Campbell Liberals’ nursing strategy undermined by shoddy treatment of LPNs

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The Campbell Liberals are undermining their own nursing strategy by creating a double standard marked by shoddy and arbitrary treatment of licensed practical nurses, says the Hospital Employees’ Union.

The union is calling on government and health employers to restore LPN wage rates they slashed last month and to maintain these wage rates for two years as they agreed to do with other nursing classifications last week.

“LPNs are now subject to stricter licensing standards and are expected to take on greater professional responsibilities within our hospitals and care facilities,” says HEU secretary-business manager Chris Allnutt. “And the Campbell Liberals have opened hundreds of new spaces in colleges to provide LPN training and upgrading to help deal with the nursing shortage.

“Yet this government slashes LPN wages by 15 per cent while maintaining wage rates for registered and registered psychiatric nurses,” adds Allnutt. “It’s second class treatment for these important nursing team members and more evidence that this government has no coherent health human resources strategy.” Allnutt says his union has urged government and health employers to bring in wage adjustments for professional and technical occupations after last month’s Bill 37 rolled back their pay by 15 per cent.

“There’s a looming retention and recruitment crisis of the government’s own making that’s putting their own nursing strategy at risk,” says Allnutt.

“It’s time that the government showed respect for all classifications of nurses and restore wage rates for LPNs to pre-Bill 37 levels.”

There are more than 4,000 LPNs working in B.C. hospitals and long-term care facilities. These nurses have a professional college and are licensed under the Health Professions Act — the same legislation under which physicians and registered nurses are licensed.