19 October 2022
To Recruit and Retain, Improve Wages, not Signing Bonuses
Minister McPhee seems misinformed about the nature of consultations with YEU around YG’s proposed bonus package for nurses. The discussions regarding the nursing ‘recruitment package’ proposed by the employer began and ended at the same meeting. The employer continues to ignore what nurses have told them time and again – if you want to recruit and retain healthcare workers, raise the wages.
YEU has held many meetings with nurses and other healthcare staff, and they tell us the same thing; they want fair compensation for their time, energy, and talent. Throwing together a ‘recruitment and retention package’ of one-off bonuses which are neither pensionable nor reflected in severance is an insult and won’t solve the problem of short staffing. Other regions have done the work to enshrine higher pay in compensation packages, making the Yukon’s signing bonuses far less attractive a recruitment tool than the minister believes.
Nurses want wages increased as incentive for more professionals to move here and stay here. They want the security of knowing their compensation will be counted toward their future, and their retirement. They simply want to be paid fairly and have the pay reflect the importance and value of the work they do.
Nurses have been clear about what they don’t want, as well. They don’t want one-off, lump-sum bonuses which mean a bigger tax hit. They don’t want bribes that only go to new hires, ignoring all the dedicated workers who have put in years of service in the Yukon. They don’t want their difficult working conditions further worsened by an employer who devalues their dedication with a cynical offer of a quick cash top-up. These professionals have worked through a pandemic and have faced chronic understaffing for years; nurses are not easily fooled.
We are concerned about the health of nursing professionals and our healthcare system. Thanks to the unprecedented lack of support and resources, healthcare workers are burning out and many are leaving their professions. Thanks to inadequate wages, Yukon’s nurses are working alongside agency fly-ins with no connection to our communities and little public accountability, knowing these agency nurses are making much higher wages to do the exact same job.
We are not prepared to negotiate in the media or legitimize the political opportunism demonstrated by Minister McPhee in the Legislative Assembly. This is a chronic problem, and the employer has failed to show true leadership too many times. Despite repeated warnings from within the medical system’s healthcare community and from the workers’ unions, the need for systemic change is still being ignored.
Nurses need better wages, not just bonuses.