Nurses still in peril

New government policies have done little to improve work conditions
||Last Updated: 07/31/2009

Not enough is being done to help nurses and many are still working in hostile conditions, according to a new report.

"Nurses are still too often exposed to unsafe working conditions, are understaffed, feel unsupported and lacking in respect by supervisors, face unrealistic expectations for overtime and are in physical pain," said Renée Torgerson, author of Canadian Policy Research Networks' report

Not There yet: Improving the Working Conditions of Canadian Nurses


The report follows the introduction of various new government policies to improve the working conditions of nurses following a scathing report in 2005.


2005 National Survey of the Work and Health of Nurses

, by the Canadian Institute for Health Information, Statistics Canada and Health Canada, found that nurses reported stress, violence and strain on the job. They also reported high rates of depression and injuries, worked long hours, were short-staffed and performed their jobs without adequate supports.

These problems were attributed to short-term planning and the view of nurses as an expense rather than as a valuable component of medical care.

The new reported stated provincial governments outlined targets for quality workplace improvement and the federal government made quality workplace improvements part of its health human resource action plan. But the introduction of these measures has been slow and uneven across the country. The report found that even where policies have been introduced, there are few evaluations to measure their impact on nursing and patient outcomes.

The report found that nurses are still working long hours, are exposed to physical and emotional abuse and report working in hostile conditions. They continue to have high rates of job strain, injury and mental health concerns.

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