An op-ed by CFNU President Linda Silas for National Nursing Week was published in the National Newswatch last week with the title: It’s Nursing Week – but will nurses have time to celebrate?

In it, she discusses the toll that high vacancy numbers across Canada are taking on nurses and the fact that nurses warned about staffing shortages and hallway medicine well before the pandemic.

Here is an excerpt:

A recent poll commissioned by the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions (CFNU) revealed that four in 10 nurses want to leave their job or the profession, or retire. Why? Most feel their workplaces are regularly understaffed and overcapacity.

This takes a toll on nurses. Eight out of 10 have registered some form of burnout, while over seven in 10 experience symptoms of anxiety or depression. And let’s be clear, what nurses are asking for is pretty basic. Most say scheduling flexibility and guaranteed days off would keep them in their jobs.

I recently spoke to an experienced frontline nurse about the long hours she’s being asked to work. She said that “around hour 20” she started to get confused. These are words no patient or family member wants to hear.

The fact is, nurses are constantly busy during their shifts, and patients rely on them for their well-being. But you can’t expect any human to function well after 20+ hours on the job – especially not when the stakes are as high as for a nurse in a hospital ward. This must change. The bottom line is: you cannot save lives without sleep.

I know nurses, and they will not say ‘no’ when asked to stay working after their scheduled shift is over. They do not want to leave patients unsupported or let their colleagues down. Our laws strictly regulate hours for truckers and pilots, but nurses have no such protection.

Nurses want respect.

To read the full op-ed, please click this link.