Nursing Services Response Centre: A big step forward for northern nurses

Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) recently announced the creation of the Nursing Services Response Centre (NSRC), an important initiative aimed at addressing key issues faced by PIPSC nursing professionals working in remote regions of the country, including:

  • Recruitment and retention
  • Isolation
  • Safety
  • Workload
  • Connectivity

The need to introduce innovative solutions to these problems, which have impacted the delivery of health services to remote northern communities, has been recognized for some time. Beginning in the spring of 2018, a series of joint employer/union consultations were held with hundreds of our members at some 75 work sites across Ontario, Manitoba, Alberta and Québec. ISC Consultation Team Co-President Ginette Tardif has been instrumental in this process of gathering feedback from front-line nurses and in the development of an effective plan to better assist them.

The current multi-tiered support system is based on a number of separate departmental resources, each of which uses a different set of processes and procedures. Response times and service standards are those of the traditional federal government workplace and have little in common with the realities of Northern Canada. In addition, the transition from Health Canada to ISC has had an adverse effect on the timeliness of support available to nurses in remote regions, exacerbating an already difficult situation.

In contrast, beginning this fall the NSRC will take its first steps towards ultimately offering a virtual, “single window” approach to providing nurses with a range of integrated, dedicated services and resources. Substantial enhancements will progressively be made to critical areas such as technical support, security, patient safety, receiving/triage, staffing, procurement, business support, training and the wellness of staff.

Nurses need the right tools to provide quality health care services in Canada’s remote communities. The creation of the Centre is an important step forward in this regard and an excellent example of what can be achieved when the Employer takes the time to work with our union and our members towards a common goal.