A healthcare worker in a white coat makes a "shhhh" finger over their mouth and looks at the camera with concern.

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Why is a Pro-Labour Government Silencing Health Care Workers?

Is the BC NDP actually pro-worker?

Nurses are speaking out about conditions that affect you

Nurses are in the middle of one of the worst healthcare crises this province has ever seen. And according to the Vancouver Sun, “burnt out health-care workers face a ‘gag order’ that bars them from speaking out about their working conditions.”

Overworked nurses are telling the truth about what it’s like to be a nurse in BC right now. On their own Facebook pages, or in private groups. And the BC government is bringing the hammer down on them.

Was that on your end-of-the-world bingo card for 2022?

And did you expect to see this kind of censorship of workers under an NDP government?

Neither did we.

Free speech has been a hot topic lately. Especially free speech on social media, from that wacky billionaire who’s almost the owner of Twitter. You’d think that nurses wouldn’t get in trouble for talking about the terrifying problems they face at work.

In fact, one anonymous nurse told the Vancouver Sun that “the hospital [where they work] is routinely operating at 50% of the normal staffing for night shifts.” So the beds are overflowing, but there are only half the nurses to care for sick people?

That sounds like a recipe for disaster, and we as the public have a right to know.

But if your workplace is falling apart and people depend on you, how can you get help when you can’t tell anyone what’s wrong?

Katrina Plamondon is a nursing professor at UBC Okanagan. She told the CBC that lots of nurses are just leaving the profession. She says they’re dealing with grief and loss. So many people have died in the pandemic. And with so few nurses, they don’t have what they need to properly care for everyone.

Health Minister Adrian Dix says he knows the “health-care system is facing ‘exceptional challenges.'” Even so, the nurse who talked to the Vancouver Sun says that the government has ignored their concerns.

The BC Nurses Union confirms that a number of nurses they represent have gotten in trouble for their social media posts. But the nurses aren’t breaking patient confidentiality. They’re talking about working short-staffed. Or working too many hours. Or feeling depressed because they don’t have the resources to do a good job.

When the boss comes down on a worker like that, it has a chill effect. That means fewer workers will speak up, even if the conditions get worse. Folks don’t want to lose their jobs. You have to wonder why a government that claims it is “working for us” would allow this to happen.

But Canada has safeguards for people who speak out about bad things that are happening in their workplace. It’s called whistleblower protection. In BC, it’s part of the BC Public Interest Disclosure Act. That Act protects people who report when their employer is creating unsafe working conditions, or doing something shady.

But unfortunately in BC, nurses aren’t protected by that Act. They’re supposed to be, but the changes have been delayed until March 2023. That’s ironic since the whole reason the whistleblower law was passed was because eight staff in the BC Ministry of Health spoke out in 2012 and were punished for it.

That’s utter nonsense.

An NDP government is supposed to be a friend to workers. Isn’t that their whole reason for being? But instead, they’re shutting these workers down.

The situation in hospitals is getting worse. Hospital beds are full and some clinics are closing because they don’t have enough nursing staff. That makes work unsafe for healthcare workers, and it makes healthcare unsafe for us.

When you go to the hospital, do you want a nurse who’s been on their feet for 16 hours?

In Rant and Rave groups all over VanIsle, folks are praising the doctors and nurses they see in emergency rooms. They’re thanking healthcare workers for taking care of them and their sick children even when the emergency room is overflowing.

These healthcare workers are heroes. The pandemic rages on, but the cut-out hearts have left the windows. We don’t bang pots and pans anymore. These heroes care for us day after day as things get worse.

And they’re burning out.

And when they try to tell us they’re struggling, even on their own Facebook page, they get in trouble from the government.

Why is the BC NDP trying to silence the people whose job it is, quite literally, to save our lives? What exactly are they trying to hide?