On Friday, January 8, 2021 the New Brunswick Labor and Employment Board handed down its decision on the fate of LPNs working largely in the Health Care System in New Brunswick. There are 4000 LPNs in the province with 2500 working in the hospital sector. That the decision came as a shock and disappointment to the eighty five percent of Licensed Practical Nurses who launched the action would be an understatement.
For many years, as the LPN profession has matured, there has been a strong and growing unease with this professional care delivery group being represented by CUPE and 85% of the LPNs initiated an action to be moved from CUPE to another union. This involves a long and expensive process of application and hearings with the New Brunswick Labor and Employment Board.
This decision represents, as well, a set-back to the vision, expressed by many, to introduce reforms to the health care system.
As discussed in previous commentaries, the entire culture of care needs major overhaul. While there are many moving parts in creating a true culture of Patient-Centred Care, one major element is the creation of a clinical workforce that truly works together in complementary, not competitive, roles. The roles of PSW’s, LPNs, and RNs need to be clearly identified so that they function in true complementary fashion with all functioning at full scope of practice and collaboratively with all health care professionals. The workplace in which those dynamics come together under informed leadership is a true delight!
In the lead up to Christmas during the legislative session of the Province of New Brunswick, the Minister of Health re-affirmed her commitment to consultation with the public relative to health care reform. She is an honorable person who will always do as she says; I know that.
The challenge will be to engage in consultations that are truly meaningful to the population being served and who pay taxes. They are the customers and, in the end, the customer is always right! The customer knows when a great product is being delivered but most often the customer is not sufficiently aware of all that it takes to get a quality product to market, a product that can be sustained in quality and price in changing times.
On the other hand, government officials working in offices with desks and computer screens in Fredericton, Bathurst, or Miramichi, or elsewhere, often have their thought processes directed by their own set of experiences, their own educational background, the experiences and backgrounds of those around them and the very culture of government and the civil service itself.
Ken McGeorge, BS,DHA,CHE is a career health care executive based in Fredericton, NB, Canada.