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'No idea why': Qualified B.C. nurses not getting shifts as hospitals short-staffed


The B.C. Nurses’ Union and individual members alike are raising questions about why nurses aren’t being called upon to fill scores of job postings at a time hospitals are short-staffed, scheduled surgeries continue to be postponed, and COVID-19 hospitalizations are at an all-time high.

Several nurses contacted CTV News baffled and frustrated that despite applying for job postings at various British Columbia health authorities, they were only able to find casual work, while others say they haven’t heard a word despite being qualified.

"Casual work, full-time, part-time, whatever – I've applied for multiple, multiple positions and haven't gotten a call back from any of the health authorities," said licensed practical nurse Brittany Stockbrocks.

She’d left a full-time career in nursing due to health issues and has been working as an E-Comm call-taker, but has wanted to re-enter the nursing profession and ensure she can sustain her licence, which requires a minimum number of hours worked per year.

"Come March when we have to do our renewal, I will lose my nursing licence because I do not have the practice hours," she said. “I'd really like to know their true, concrete reasons for not calling people out (for shifts)."

Other nurses described stepping down from full-time positions due to pregnancy, family demands, or an unwillingness to work short-staffed or in poorly managed departments, and being unable to find even casual work despite multiple job postings.

The president of the B.C. Nurses’ Union was also at a loss as to why they’re increasingly hearing from nurses who aren’t receiving responses from the health authorities; Fraser Health alone has hundreds of job postings for various departments, hours and locations.

"Those who want to work the shifts should be provided the shifts – we have a nursing staffing crisis," said Aman Grewal. “More work could be done including pre-booking those shifts with the casuals, the part-timers and then if you're still not able to fill them, then go to the full-timer who's worked the full quota of shifts.”

CTV News asked to speak with officials at Vancouver Coastal Health and Fraser Health about qualified nurses not hearing back, some with years of experience who applied several times over the course of months, and whether it was a cost-cutting or logistical issue, but did not receive a response.


Earlier this month, nurses joined other frontline health-care workers in raising concerns about hospitals being precariously and even dangerously short-staffed. A worker pool steadily dwindling as personnel leave the health-care field entirely or opt for part-time work instead has been dramatically exacerbated by the Omicron variant of COVID-19, with twice as many workers as usual calling in sick.

Grewal says that nurses who typically work four long shifts per week are being pressured to work up to seven days in a row, including shifts of 16 hours or longer, which is a health and safety issue.

“There's a fatigue policy and that's being waived," she said, pointing out that daily absences are largely predictable at this point. “We should be calling out all our casuals and providing them a lot of shifts in advance. Let's pre-book them, not short call."

Some nurses speculated that administrators are saving money by not filling job vacancies, but health authorities are also shelling out big money in overtime. CTV News has confirmed that staff are often offered double or even triple pay to entice them to work overtime shifts. They are often turned down because the stressful working conditions and inability to maintain patient care levels aren’t worth the extra money.

The issue of access to N95 masks in the workplace continues to be a contentious one, with nurses refused unfettered access to the top-quality masks and health officials insisting they’re only necessary during certain medical procedures, even though about one-in-10 patients in hospital right now has COVID-19. Top Stories

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