Eabametoong First Nation / Fort Hope, September 28, 2022 – Jennifer Carr, President of the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada, is currently making official visits to nursing stations in remote First Nations northern communities.
President Carr has undertaken this tour to shine a light on the crisis currently facing nurses in these communities, as well as the impact on those seeking care.
“When the public thinks of federal public servants they likely picture an office worker in Ottawa,” said President Carr. “But over the last few days, I’ve seen and heard first-hand that hundreds of our members are trying to do exhausting life-saving work in truly perilous conditions.”
The travel these federal nurses take to these communities is long and arduous. And at the end of this journey, many nurses find themselves in places without consistent hot water or running water. Due to conditions like these, burnout rates are high. Several of these nursing stations are forced to operate without the nursing staff required to provide care.
“Many of us go to work every day knowing we won’t have what we need to offer our patients the best possible care,” said Lori Clace, CHN working in Gull Bay. "Even the most dedicated among us can reach their breaking point with these conditions, so understaffing is a chronic issue.”
It is not easy to find qualified candidates willing to accept the tough work, the distances and travel involved, the potential for accidents on the way to and from these communities, and the potential personal security issues that can occur.
“This crisis won’t be addressed until we see an investment in fully-funded, permanent public sector solutions,” added Carr. “I’m hoping the stories and images and perspectives we bring back with us will inspire the federal government to take real action to address this issue – and that doesn’t mean contracting out to private nurse employment agencies.”
“The conditions I have seen this week clearly demonstrate that Canada's colonial past has created a health care crisis for these communities,” said President Carr. “This week we mark the second National Day for Truth and Reconciliation so we’d like to take this opportunity to remind the federal government of their treaty obligation to provide health care to Indigenous peoples.”
Recommendation 18 from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in part calls upon federal, provincial, territorial, and Aboriginal governments “to recognize and implement the health-care rights of Aboriginal people as identified in international law, constitutional law, and under the Treaties”.
Approximately 4,300 health care professionals in Canada are represented by PIPSC, including close to 500 nurses who provide treatment to isolated Indigenous communities across the nation.
For more information: Johanne Fillion, 613-883-4900 (mobile), firstname.lastname@example.org
Note for media – Photos and broadcast-quality video of the visit will be available and can be provided to the media upon request via email@example.com.