The Saskatchewan Union of Nurses and the provincial government have signed a partnership agreement to solve the province's shortage of registered nurses (RNs) and registered psychiatric nurses (RPNs).
"Nursing vacancies have been climbing for years and it's time to take serious steps to deal with this crisis. It's time for specific hiring targets, and incentives and financial support to health regions to meet those targets," said Health Minister Don McMorris.
The new agreement lays out plans to hire 800 nurses over the next four years and actively work to retain nurses going forward.
The union and the ministry of health will work with health regions to reach annual hiring targets over the next four years. The agreement's funding formula will provide a financial incentive for health regions that meet those targets, said the union.
The agreement also commits the union and the ministry to finding ways to keep senior nurses in the workplace longer, improve nurse/patient ratios, increase the use of nurse practitioners, focus on prevention by using RNs in new roles, increase training and ensure new graduates are offered full-time, permanent employment.
Marlene Smadu, president of the Canadian Nurses Association and associate dean for the College of Nursing at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, will work with the union and the province to develop a more detailed action plan to implement the agreement.
"This collaborative partnership represents a significant opportunity to address issues critical to the sustainability of the health care system and advancement of health," said Smadu. "Nurses have a key role to play in identifying challenges and providing solutions, as exemplified by this agreement."