Focus on retaining nurses before recruiting nurses from other provinces: association
By Jacob Serebrin in Montreal
Efforts to lure nurses from other provinces are underway in several parts of the country, but the head of a national nurses association says the poaching won’t solve anything unless working conditions are improved.
“We know that nurses are facing inadequate working conditions, and that is the main reason many are leaving their jobs,” Sylvain Brousseau, the president of the Canadian Nurses Association, said in an interview Thursday. “If working conditions and retention are not the focus, the new nurses recruited from other provinces may find themselves wanting to leave their jobs.”
This week, Horizon Health Network, one of New Brunswick’s two health authorities, held three-day recruiting events in Edmonton, Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal. Its pitch to attract 120 nurses to the province includes the promise of an appealing life near the ocean with financial incentives of up to $20,000.
A spokesperson said recruiting from outside of New Brunswick isn’t new, and that it’s also hiring nurses through partnerships with universities in Maine and in India, as well as taking steps to retain workers. The province’s other regional health authority, Vitalité Health Network, says it will be attending several career fairs in Quebec in the coming weeks.
Last week, Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced that the province will start automatically recognizing the credentials of health-care workers registered in other provinces and territories. “A doctor from British Columbia or a nurse from Quebec who wants to come and work in Ontario shouldn’t face barriers or bureaucratic delays to start providing care,” Ford told a Jan. 19 news conference.
Newfoundland and Labrador has introduced incentives in an effort to lure home health-care workers with connections to the province, while Quebec said it’s looking to recruit internationally.
“All provinces in Canada face the same challenge of a shortage of labour in their health-care systems,” the office of Health Minister Christian Dubé said in a statement. “It’s in everyone’s interest to recruit people internationally. Meanwhile, we continue to work so that our network becomes an employer of choice and to improve working conditions.”
Brousseau said nurses need better pay, more support staff — so they can focus on caring for patients — and responsibility for fewer patients.
“Thirty years ago on surgery, I had six patients during the day, seven to eight on the evening shift and 12 on night shift, and now it’s 15 during the day in surgery in some places, or 10. This is too much,” he said.
Brosseau said he’d also like to see an end to practices like mandatory overtime, which remains common in Quebec, and nurses being pressured to work ostensibly optional overtime shifts.
He said the nurses association isn’t opposed to nurses going to another province to work and that it has been calling for a reduction of barriers between provinces — but that won’t fix the problems.
“It’s not by going to poach nurses from one province to (another) that you will solve the health-care system crisis that we are going through right now,” he said. “It’s by giving them better working conditions and a better health-care environment.”
Ivy Lynn Bourgeault, a University of Ottawa professor and director of the Canadian Health Workforce Network, said the efforts to recruit nurses across provincial boundaries are a symptom of a wider problem.
While it’s not the first time Canadian health-care systems have looked to other parts of the country for staff, the shortage of nurses and other health-care workers is worse than before.
“I think what is new is the extent of the problem and that every province is in these circumstances, and this is not just a Canadian problem. This is happening across the world,” she said in an interview Thursday.
Solving Canada’s nursing shortage needs to start with retention, she argues; recruitment alone can’t solve it. “It’s focusing on one part of the challenge, of bringing more in, and we’re not looking at all of those who are leaving,” she said. “It’s not a long-term strategy.”
Bourgeault said governments need better data for workforce planning and that federal agencies, such as the Canadian Institute for Health Information and Statistics Canada, could be used to give provinces better tools.
Mandatory nurse-to-patient ratios would also help retain nurses, she said, but they could in the short term lead to longer wait times.
“I think that as a society, we need to have a crucial conversation about how we manage this crisis going forward,” she said.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 27, 2023.
B.C. parent launches class-action lawsuit against makers of Fortnite video game
A child plays the video game “Fortnite” in Chicago, Saturday, Oct.6, 2018. A Vancouver parent has launched a proposed class-action lawsuit against the makers of Fortnite, saying the popular video game is designed to be “as addictive as possible” for children. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Martha Irvine
By Chuck Chiang in Vancouver
A Vancouver parent has launched a proposed class-action lawsuit against the makers of Fortnite, saying the popular video game is designed to be “as addictive as possible” for children.
In the lawsuit filed in B.C. Supreme Court on Friday, the plaintiff identified only as A.B. says her son downloaded Fortnite in 2018 and “developed an adverse dependence on the game.”
The statement of claim says the game incorporates a number of intentional design choices such as offering rewards for completing challenges and making frequent updates, which encourages players to return repeatedly.
Fortnite creator Epic Games says in a written response released Monday that it will fight the “inflammatory allegations.”
The plaintiff statement says Epic Games enriches itself by making content and customization options purchasable via an in-game currency, which are purchased with real cash.
The class-action lawsuit would still need approval from a judge and none of the allegations have been proven in court.
The plaintiff is seeking damages alleging the game breaches the B.C. Business Practices and Consumer Protection Act, as well as for “unjust enrichment” and medical expenses for psychological or physical injuries, among other claims.
“Video games have been around for decades, but Fortnite is unique in that the science and psychology of addiction and cognitive development are at the core of the game’s design,” the court statement says.
It describes the game as “predatory and exploitative,” given its popularity among minors.
Epic Games says the company has had “cabined accounts” in place since 2022, which allow for parents to track their children’s playtime and limit purchases.
Other measures such as a daily spending limit for players under 13 and instant purchase cancellations are also in place, the company says.
“These claims do not reflect how Fortnite operates and ignore all the ways parents can control their child’s experience through Epic’s parental controls,” the statement says.
In the lawsuit, A.B. says her son began playing Fortnite: Battle Royale on a Sony PlayStation 4 game console when he was nine years old. The boy, she said, soon began buying various Fortnite products while adding the game to different platforms at home, including on a mobile phone and a computer.
Since that time, A.B. says Epic Games “received payment for numerous charges” made to her credit card without her authorization. The statement says A.B.’s son spent “thousands of dollars” on in-game purchases.
“If Epic Games had warned A.B. that playing Fortnite could lead to psychological harm and financial expense, A.B. would not have allowed (her son) to download Fortnite,” the statement says.
The lawsuit, if approved by the court, would cover three classes of plaintiffs: an “Addiction Class” of people who suffered after developing a dependence on Fortnite, a “Minor Purchaser Class” that includes gamers who made purchases in the game while under the age of majority, and an “Accidental Purchaser Class” of users who mistakenly bought items due to the game’s design.
The lawsuit would cover all persons affected by Fortnite in Canada except Quebec, where Epic lost its attempt last month to appeal a court decision there to authorize a similar class-action suit.
In the Quebec class-action appeal attempt, Epic lawyers argued the claims that children were becoming addicted to Fortnite were “based purely on speculation,” and no scientific consensus exists on cyberaddiction.
Epic Games also said in the Quebec case that it was not given a chance to argue against the claim that minors who bought Fortnite’s in-game currency were taken advantage of.
Quebec Appeal Court Justice Guy Cournoyer said in his decision that Epic did not demonstrate any significant error on the lower court judge’s decision to authorize the class-action lawsuit in that case.
Epic said in documents made public in a separate legal battle with Apple in the United States that Fortnite made more than US$9 billion combined in 2018 and 2019.
The legal claim in Quebec against the video game maker still needs to be argued in court.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 20, 2023.
Alberta program trains rural health-care workers in supporting sex assault victims
Edmonton (CP) – The Alberta government says $1 million in funding is to be used to train rural health-care providers to better support victims of sexual assault.
The money, announced in October, helped Grande Prairie’s Northwestern Polytechnic develop an online course for specialized training.
The course, called Rural Sexual Assault Care-Expanded, teaches how to provide comprehensive, trauma-informed care to survivors of recent sex assaults.
It focuses on assessment, forensic evidence collection and court testimony.
The government says too often sex assault survivors in rural Alberta must drive long distances to access essential care and services.
The funding is to cover the cost of the online course for registered nurses, nurse practitioners, registered midwives and doctors in rural Alberta.
“We want to ensure that as many health-care providers as possible have access to training to best support survivors of sexual assault when they are most vulnerable, and no matter where they live in the province,” Tanya Fir, Alberta’s parliamentary secretary for the status of women, said in a news release Monday.
“Alberta’s government is committed to supporting all survivors and ensuring the resources and support they deserve are available to them.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 20, 2023.
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