Nurse-to-Patient Ratios Depend on Safe Working Conditions: BC Nurses’ Union

May 30, 2024
Hundreds of nurses rally in Vancouver to collectively call on health employers to address unsafe working conditions

Over 500 BC nurses are marching in the streets of Vancouver today to send an urgent message to the province’s health authorities calling on them to on them to take action and address the health and safety risks nurses are facing at work. If they don’t, nurses say the minimum nurse-to-patient ratios needed to solve the province’s nurse staffing crisis will take even longer to be achieved. 

“If the province is going to retain and recruit the nurses it so desperately needs, it must ensure nurses feel safe and supported in their workplaces,” says BCNU President Adriane Gear. “Unfortunately, many of our members are telling us loud and clear that this is not the case.”

A recent province-wide BCNU member survey reveals just how frequently nurses in every health authority experience physical violence, verbal and emotional abuse, and exposure to weapons and illicit substances at work. On a monthly basis, a staggering 81 percent of nurses said they experience verbal and/or emotional abuse, 61 percent said their units are exposed to illicit substances and 39 percent report being exposed to weapons.

“This is not okay,” says Gear. “Today’s rally is made up of nurses from health-care facilities from every corner of this province who have one thing in common: they are tired of waiting for their employers to give nurses’ health and safety the attention it deserves.”

Gear says employer inaction has led to working conditions that hinder retention and recruitment efforts needed to implement minimum nurse-to-patient ratios, which will make BC the first jurisdiction in Canada to adopt the staffing solution. 

“It’s time health authorities get on board and help make BC the best place in the country to be a nurse,” says Gear. “That is how BC will retain and attract the nurses needed to address the staffing crisis and allow them to provide high-quality health care everyone in this province deserves.”

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