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$10K bonuses for Nunavut nurses drove Iqaluit lab technologists to resign

The ultimate straw earlier than 5 of Iqaluit’s laboratory technologists resigned within the fall, was an absence of gratitude — and a $10,000 bonus — by the federal government of Nunavut for his or her work, in accordance with the group which certifies them.

Final week, The Globe and Mail reported 5 of Iqaluit’s eight lab technologists resigned in November and December.

The laboratory crew on the Qikiqtani Common Hospital is accountable for processing COVID-19 check ends in the Qikiqtaaluk area, amongst different issues. Territory-wide testing was curtailed lately to assist unlock different very important testing providers, well being officers mentioned on Jan. 6. There are three technologists presently working on the lab, with one other on the best way.

The Canadian Society for Medical Laboratory Science (CSMLS) represents some 14,000 lab technologists throughout Canada. 

The group offered CBC Information with a letter the hospital’s laboratory crew despatched to deputy Well being minister Colleen Stockley in September, shortly after Nunavut’s well being division introduced a $10,000 retention bonus for the territory’s nurses.

On the time, Stockley characterised the bonus as an “expression of gratitude” for the nurses’ work throughout the pandemic, in accordance with a memo from Sept. 14, additionally offered to CBC Information by the CSMLS.

5 days later, the laboratory crew wrote to Stockley, saying they could not “assist however really feel insulted to be ignored from this compensation together with different well being professionals,” including they had been completely satisfied to see the nurses rewarded.

“The letter saying this bonus states being happy with nursing colleagues, with this being very true for the well being care groups in Nunavut. The irony of together with ‘well being care groups,’ whereas fully ignoring all different professions is extraordinarily disheartening.”

The laboratory crew requested the bonus be prolonged to them, together with different well being care staff.

“The lab was beside themselves,” mentioned Christine Nielsen, the CEO of the CSMLS.

“Who do they suppose is doing all the COVID-19 testing? Whereas we do not see sufferers immediately, we’re dealing with essentially the most infectious specimens we have ever had.”

The Qikiqtani Common Hospital in Iqaluit. Lab technologists listed below are liable for processing COVID-19 exams throughout the Qikiqtaaluk area, amongst different duties. (Travis Burke/CBC)

Bonuses had been meant to save lots of well being centres from closing

Stockley responded to the letter three weeks later, saying the incentives had been “not supposed to create a divide inside the well being workers, nor was it supposed to acknowledge the laborious work of just one group inside this crew.”

Stockley didn’t handle the request to increase the bonuses to different workers. However she additional contextualized the bonuses, clarifying they had been a part of a technique to forestall closures throughout Nunavut’s group well being centres.

“The Division of Well being was forecasting full closures of a number of well being centres throughout the territory because of the nursing scarcity,” Stockley wrote, including different communities had been going through reductions of providers to emergencies solely.

“Since well being centres are the one possibility for Nunavummiut to entry well being care providers in our communities outdoors the regional hubs, [the department of] well being needed to take swift motion to forestall well being centre closures and mitigate security dangers.”

st therese s health centre in kugaaruk nunavut
The St. Therese’s Well being Centre in Kugaaruk, pictured on Sept. 29, 2020, was amongst a number of momentary well being centre closed throughout the summer time of 2021 amid territory-wide nursing shortages. 5 had been open for emergencies solely, whereas two different closed altogether. (John Final/CBC)

Shedding remaining techs is ‘a threat’

Nonetheless, Nielsen says her group needs the federal government to acknowledge the lab technologists’ work, financially, or threat shedding them.

And whereas the refusal to increase the bonuses was “the straw that broke the camel’s again,” she mentioned different office points — together with quick staffing, lengthy hours, and the hardships of working within the North — had been additionally elements behind the resignations. Among the resignations got here from folks with a 12 months remaining on their contracts, and all had been conscious of the abundance of labor out there elsewhere in Canada.

“The [lab technologists] which are left, they undoubtedly should be given the respect due for his or her experience. They’re the one ones who can do that for the entire group,” Neilsen mentioned.

“If push involves shove, we do not need to see that whole group with out lab providers. That will be a disaster that no person can anticipate.”

In an interview, Well being Minister John Principal mentioned Nunavut’s laboratory technologists are “extraordinarily beneficial” at this explicit time, given the pressures of working in a pandemic, and mentioned the division values all its staff.

Whereas he declined to elaborate on whether or not denying the bonuses to different well being care staff was the fitting resolution or not, he mentioned recruitment and retention is a precedence for him.

“A part of that’s taking a look at: What can we do to point out our staff that we do worth them?” Principal mentioned.

“To point out them that we wish them to have a wholesome work setting, to point out them that we need to compensate them in a aggressive method once we have a look at different jurisdictions in Canada.”

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