Advocating on Behalf of Nurses

CORRECTION (added May 12, 2021)

The NSGEU message to nurses yesterday regarding reassignments into COVID units contained an error. The message stated NSGEU has agreement with NSHA that would see fully vaccinated nurses re-assigned to COVID units first, followed by nurses with one dose and that those without a vaccination would only be considered as a last resort.

While NSGEU continues to advocate for this process, NSHA has not yet agreed.

NSHA did agree to a suggestion from NSGEU and NSNU that the Employer seek volunteers from NSNU nurses who are willing to be re-assigned to the COVID units.

We continue to push your Employer to agree to this process.

For the past 15 months, our nurses have been on the frontline of Nova Scotia’s fight against COVID-19. Even when we knew far less about this virus and didn’t have the appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to keep you safe, you showed up to work in our hospitals, clinics, long-term care facilities and clients’ homes.

You went to work even when you may have been afraid – at a time when we all were afraid. Now, more than one year later, many of those same nurses are reporting to work without having received vaccination against this virus.

This is simply unacceptable.

This week is National Nursing Week, a time for us to recognize the incredible contributions made by our nurses. To mark the occasion this year, I am calling on our provincial government and the Nova Scotia Health Authority immediately take action on the following items to protect and support for Nova Scotia’s nurses:

  1. Immediately offer all nurses the opportunity to be vaccinated. We have heard from many of our members that the initial vaccine roll-out by NSHA within the workplace was flawed, and many nurses were missed. Now, those nurses are being told they must wait for their age cohort to come up to be vaccinated with the general public. This includes many young nurses (in their 20’s and 30’s) who are now being asked to float to COVID-positive units in the hospital.
  2. Ensure that any nurses who are being reassigned to COVID-positive units are provided with the necessary training and support so they can do this work safely.
  3. If staff are being reassigned to COVID-positive units, fully-vaccinated staff must be deployed first, followed by those who have received one dose, with unvaccinated staff only considered as a last resort (we have received agreement from NSH on this item as of Tuesday afternoon).

Furthermore, I have sent a letter to Chief Medical Officer Dr. Robert Strang, after comments he made during a media conference yesterday implied our nurses are somehow to blame for not having been vaccinated yet.

We truly appreciate all of your efforts and contributions, and will continue to advocate on your behalf.

In solidarity,

Jason MacLean

President, NSGEU

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