Nurse shortage turns into glut

Critics fear return to 1990s slash mentality
One year ago, the Edmonton area was short hundreds of nurses.
Operating rooms were routinely shut down, people with broken bones waited longer for care and the health region scrambled to find foreign-trained nurses from the United Kingdom, the Philippines and India.

The provincial health authority has now done a 180-degree turn, limited external recruitment and suggested to the nursing union that Alberta has too many nurses. Only 103 Alberta-wide nursing positions are posted on its career website — down from 182 earlier in the week — and foreign recruitment has dwindled.

Some critics wonder if the province is returning to the slash mentality of the early 1990s. According to the job postings, 14 nurses are needed in the Edmonton area and two nurses are needed in the former Northern Lights health region, which includes Fort McMurray.

Rob Stevenson, spokesman for Alberta Health Services, said the assumptions the health system was working with were wrong when it projected large nursing shortages.

As recently as March, Stevenson said the Edmonton area planned to hire 200 new foreign recruits each year to beef up the nursing staff, which still wouldn’t be enough to keep up with population growth and maternity leaves. Now, the province only expects to need 10 foreign recruits each month for the entire province, he said.


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