News Stories of Interest, Thursday, Jan. 16, 2014

It’s Flag Day is Israel and Teachers Day in Thailand. Here in Alberta, there were a couple of significant stories of interest to UNA members and staff, and a few others worth including in this summary:

[ ]Alberta faces shortage of more than 5,000 nurses by 2023: jobs outlook report

Alberta’s latest jobs forecast shows the province could be short more than 5,000 nurses within 10 years. The latest Alberta Occupational Demand and Supply Outlook, released Wednesday, says the province’s forecast shortage of nurses has grown by about 11 per cent in the two years since its last outlook report. Alberta could face an estimated shortage of 5,016 nurse supervisors and registered nurses by 2023, up from the 4,540 previously predicted by 2021. The province will be short an estimated 455 licensed practical nurses, down from the 695 predicted two years ago. And UNA President Heather Smith said these estimates could be low if Alberta Health Services doesn’t address workplace dissatisfaction among nurses in the current round of bargaining.

[ ]AUPE says ‘poor’ provincial offer likely to be rejected

The head of Alberta’s largest public-sector union says while the province has improved its latest contract offer, it’s going to have to do a lot better. “The latest proposal from the government was marginally better … but it doesn’t even come close to meeting the needs that we’re seeking for our members,” said Guy Smith, president of the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees. “It’s still a bad deal that we’re not willing to accept.” Negotiators for both sides resumed talks this week, just two weeks before a legislated deal is to kick in.

[ ]H1N1 continues its march across Alberta

There may be no more vaccine for Albertans, but the H1N1 influenza virus keeps marching on across Alberta, leaving 372 hospitalized, the Innisfail Province reports.

[ ]Columnist asks: Did health minister’s immunization call make sense?

Was it sound public policy to implore the general public and health workers to be immunized, when you can’t meet the demand that you’ve whipped up? Now, only about 28 per cent of Albertans have been immunized, not nearly enough to provide herd immunity. And we’re virtually out of vaccine. Good column by the Journal’s Paula Simons.

[ ]AHS rolls out new simpler colon, rectal cancer test

Alberta Health Services is rolling out a new screening test for colon and rectal cancers that should reduce the wait times for people at high risk for the disease.

[ ]Some provinces seek extra flu vaccine

A number of provinces and territories asked for more influenza vaccine Wednesday in an attempt to meet this season’s unusually high demand for flu shots. But at least one, Nova Scotia, has decided to pass, saying the window of opportunity for making a difference with flu vaccine this season is shrinking.

[ ]Owner of Innisfail seniors’ home rejects mediator’s report for deal with AUPE

A crisis looms at Innisfail’s Sunset Manor & Innisfail Country Manor seniors’ residence following the owner’s rejection of an independent mediator’s recommended settlement that would have given the facility’s 115 nursing and support staff its first collective agreement. Gord van der Eerden, executive director of the Chantelle Group, said the facility is prepared to bring in qualified replacement Registered Nurses from within the province to care for residents if there is a strike. Let’s hope he has this wrong!

[ ]Improving workplace mental health is good business

More than 500,000 Canadians miss work each day because of mental health problems or illness, making it the No. 1 cause for short- and long-term disability. Currently, more than 30 per cent of disability claims and 70 per cent of disability costs are attributed to mental health problems or illness. The total economic burden tied to mental health problems or illness in Canada adds up to approximately $51-billion per year. Nearly half of this amount — $20-billion — comes directly from workplace losses. So fixing this would be good for business, the Globe and Mail reports.

David Climenhaga
Communications Advisor
United Nurses of Alberta
780-425-1025 (Office)
780-717-2943 (Cellular)

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