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BCNU members tour northern B.C.; rally Friday in Prince George

The BC Nurses’ Union will be travelling throughout northern B.C. this week speaking to nurses and raising awareness about the mounting pressure on the health care system.

The tour started with a rally in Fort St. John on Tuesday, member meetings in Dawson Creek, Chetwynd, and Mackenzie and and will wrap up on Friday in Prince George where a rally is planned in front of the University Hospital of Northern BC (UHNBC) at 12:30 p.m. BCNU will also be meeting with community leaders, local mayors, MLAs and nursing leaders in an effort to brainstorm solutions and discuss the crisis.

“Nurses in rural and remote communities – the majority of which are in northern BC – have long been calling attention to difficulties they face when it comes to providing care,” said BCNU President Aman Grewal. “UHNBC was operating at 124 per cent the other day and nurses there tell us they are simply in survival mode.”

Both the Mackenzie District and Health Centre and the Chetwynd Hospital and Health Centre have had to divert patients several times this year. In a 2018 report, B.C.’s then auditor general Carol Bellringer provided a sobering assessment of the health care crisis in the north, stating then that the Northern Health Authority was not effectively recruiting and retaining enough registered nurses to fill a growing number of vacancies. The pandemic has only exacerbated the crisis.

“We are asking the government, once again, to sit down at the table and come up with a plan that improves health care for northern residents and supports nurses,” said Grewal.

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